Hope; Albéniz (arr. Arnold); Wetherell; Liszt (arr. Phelps); etc

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Albéniz (arr. Arnold),etc,Hope,Liszt (arr. Phelps),Wetherell
LABELS: White Line
ALBUM TITLE: British by Arrangement, vol. 2
WORKS: Works by Hope, Albéniz (arr. Arnold), Wetherell, Liszt (arr. Phelps),
PERFORMER: Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Gavin Sutherland
CATALOGUE NO: CD WHL 2155

Advertisement

There are two kinds of arrangement. There’s the more or less straightforward transfer of works from one medium to another: represented here by Christopher Phelps’s strident orchestration of Liszt’s organ Fantasia and Fugue on BACH and by Malcolm Arnold’s only slightly souped-up scoring of Albéniz’s piano Tango.

Then there’s the much more thoroughgoing reworking of borrowed material – the sort of thing that prompted the witty suggestion that in Hollywood Brahms’s Haydn Variations would be credited as ‘Haydn, arr. Brahms’. Indeed, Peter Hope gives an all-purpose Hollywood sheen to his treatments of American, Majorcan and Mexican tunes alike.

Eric Wetherell dresses up some old dances with vaguely ‘period’ drones and counter-melodies and the odd harmonic surprise. Ernest Tomlinson combines ‘Auld Lang Syne’ with a host of other melodies in a quodlibet which, at 19 minutes, long outstays its welcome. The performances are mostly efficient, though the Liszt has its hairy moments.

The recording, in what sounds like a small studio with close microphones and artificial reverberation, is rather wearing. So indeed, frankly, is much of the music. But the fact that this is Vol. 2 suggests that there must be others who are more enthusiastic about the art, or arts, of the arranger.

Advertisement

Anthony Burton