RICHARD ARNELL (b.1917): Symphony No. 2, Op. 33, "Rufus", Piano Concerto, Op. 44.
Catalogue Number: 07J001
Label: Dutton Epoch
Reference: CDLX 7184
Description: Like the Third, Arnell's second symphony is also, more or less, a "war symphony" (Rufus is the pseudonym under which it was submitted for a composition competition). Written in 1942 but revised in 1944, it has a long, tragic slow movement surrounded by fast outer movements whose mood ranges from optimism to resolve. The composer notes an affinity with Hindemith in the first movement but we are reminded of contemporary American symphonies in the finale. The concerto dates from 1946, commissioned by CBS (whose musical director, Bernard Herrmann, was Arnell's friend). The piece combines a neo-classical clarity of orchestration with echt-romantic piano writing, often in octaves - there are plenty of heaven-storming examples in the outer movements. The slow movement, which opens with a long piano solo, sotto voce, is a remarkable anticipation of certain 1970s and 80s "new age" piano music which can be seen as derived from the early 20th century French interest in "oriental" scales and a generalized quality of still timelessness. David Owen Norris (piano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Martin Yates.