Arnold Film Music of Malcolm Arnold, Volume 2

Another fine Chandos movie release – music composed during a fertile period for Arnold, well performed by Gamba and the BBC Phil

Author: 
Ivan March

Film Music of Malcolm Arnold, Volume 2

  • (The) Roots of Heaven, Overture
  • Symphonic Study 'Machines'
  • You know what sailors are, Scherzetto
  • Trapeze
  • No Love for Johnnie
  • David Copperfield
  • Stolen Face
  • (The) Belles of St Trinian's
  • (The) Holly and The Ivy
  • (The) Captain's Paradise

Over two decades Malcolm Arnold provided scores for over 100 films. Almost all the music here comes from the 1950s, when memorable ideas were pouring out of him, and his unique orchestral palette was already glowing luminously.
The suite arranged by Philip Lane from Trapeze is quite outstanding in the quality of its invention, including a swinging tune for the horns in the Prelude, an engaging blues for saxophone and guitar to follow, an ebullient circus march, and a deliciously lugubrious ‘Elephant waltz’ for tuba duet, while the closing sequence opens hauntingly and then introduces an accordion to remind us we are in Paris. The suite from David Copperfield has a fine lyrical opening sweep, then introduces a delightfully quirky, syncopated moto perpetuo representing ‘The Micawbers’. This features a solo clarinet, and Christopher Palmer has arranged another witty clarinet Scherzetto from an equally winning theme used in You Know What Sailors Are.
The concertante Ballade for Piano and Orchestra adeptly arranged by Lane from Stolen Face I thought less memorable, but the overture from The Roots of Heaven (provided for the film’s New York premiere) opens with a splendid Hollywoodian/Waltonian flourish, then follows with more catchy syncopation and a lilting waltz tune. Perhaps the most tender, romantic writing comes in No Love for Johnnie (after another rousing march). The irrepressible score for The Belles of St Trinian’s (the composer’s favourite film) has something of the audacious sparkle of Ibert’s Divertissement, and if The Holly and the Ivy (a favourite movie of mine) brings a rather predictable collection of familiar carols, for the most part fully scored and not particularly individual, Arnold’s jaunty samba from The Captain’s Paradise, which memorably had Alec Guinness in the bigamous title-role, makes a splendid finale. The performances have plenty of zest, and the flow of bittersweet lyrical writing is poignantly caught by Rumon Gamba and the excellent BBC Philharmonic in a recording of top Chandos quality. If you enjoy film music, it doesn’t come any better than this.'

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