Arnold, L Berkeley, Walton

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Arnold,L Berkeley,Walton
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Guitar Concerto; Serenade for Guitar and Strings
PERFORMER: Craig Ogden (guitar); Northern Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9963
Proving that the Aranjuez is not the only guitar concerto, Chandos has brought out an impeccably performed disc of music that deserves to be more widely heard. All these works were inspired and commissioned by Julian Bream and his influence is strong, but Craig Ogden is very much his own musician, playing with flair, individuality and faultless tone. Richard Hickox and the Northern Sinfonia lend immaculate support throughout.

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William Walton’s Five Bagatelles are heard here in Patrick Russ’s new arrangement that marries the original solo guitar pieces with the composer’s own later orchestration of the work as Varii capricii. These evocative miniatures, in turn spiky and languorous, are a jewel box of Mediterranean colour.

Walton dedicated his Bagatelles to Malcolm Arnold, whose first forays into guitar writing produced the enchantingly lyrical Serenade. The Concerto also contains Arnold’s characteristically charming melodies, but most memorable is the uneasy nocturne of the second movement, a homage to Django Reinhardt, with its eerie, swaying blues lament.

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Berkeley’s Concerto explores the more austere timbres of the guitar and there is some lovely playing from the woodwind of the Northern Sinfonia. The balance between guitar and orchestra is ideal and this disc is a must for any fan of English music. Emma Baker