Arnold: The Collection: Concertos & orchestral works,

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: The Collection: Concertos & orchestral works,
PERFORMER: Various soloists, conductors & orchestras
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 88392 2 Reissue (1959-97)
‘The’ Collection? Certainly there’s some good Arnold, well performed, on these two discs. I wouldn’t say it was ideally representative though. The focus is clearly on the lighter Arnold – the inspired musical comic of A Grand, Grand Overture, or the composer of hearty and very durable ‘occasional’ works like The Padstow Lifeboat. The early, pensive orchestral miniature Larch Trees is a rare exception. There’s one big drawback though. The sets of Scottish, English and Cornish dances (Arnold at his most brilliantly colourful) are played, not in the original orchestral versions, but in arrangements for brass band. The playing is superb (no problems there), but for me too much is lost in translation – a lot depends on whether you think whistling bandsmen are a good enough substitute for piccolos in the first of the English Dances. If you’re looking for an introduction to Arnold the entertainer, Naxos’s collection of the orchestral dances is closer to the mark. Stephen Johnson