(Sir) Malcolm Arnold

Malcolm Arnold - leading two of his own works.

BBC Concert Orchestra – Vilem Tausky – Malcolm Arnold – 1957 – Weekend Gramophone

(Sir) Malcolm Arnold
Malcolm Arnold – leading two of his own works.

BBC Concert Orchestra – Vilem Tausky and Malcolm Arnold, conductors – Michael Krein, Saxophone – 1957

From a weekly series of concerts featuring the BBC Concert Orchestra, a program of works by Malcolm Arnold, Ronald Binge and Sidney Torch with Vilem Tausky and Malcolm Arnold (conducting his own works) and Saxophone solo Michael Krein in the Saxophone Concerto by Ronald Binge. The concert was recorded in 1957 and offered as part of the BBC Transcription Service worldwide.

Put under the heading of “light music”, you’d be hard-pressed to give it any other title, even though Malcolm Arnold was a serious composer of note. This is music that leans heavily on the frothy and unobtrusive and the selections reflect that. It would be hard to imagine a major symphony orchestra programming a piece like Sidney Torch’s London Transport Suite, a piece that was commissioned by The BBC and premiered at the Fifth Light Music Festival, and presumably this is the first broadcast of the work.

The two Arnold works are a suite of Scottish Dances and music for the ballet Homage To The Queen.

Malcolm Arnold’s works feature music in many genres, including a cycle of nine symphonies, numerous concertos, concert works, chamber music, choral music and music for brass band and wind band. His style is tonal and rejoices in lively rhythms, brilliant orchestration, and an unabashed tunefulness. He wrote extensively for the theatre, with five ballets specially commissioned by the Royal Ballet, as well as two operas and a musical. He also produced scores for more than a hundred films, among these The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won an Oscar.

Ronald Binge’s best-known composition is probably Elizabethan Serenade (1951), which was used by the British Broadcasting Corporation as the theme for the popular 1950s series, “Music Tapestry,” and as the play-out for the British Forces Network radio station, and for which in 1957 he won an Ivor Novello Award. It was later turned into a vocal version called “Where the Gentle Avon Flows”, with lyrics by the poet Christopher Hassall. A reggae version of the tune, “Elizabethan Reggae”, was performed by Boris Gardiner in 1970. Binge is also known for Sailing By (1963), which introduces the late-night Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio 4. Other well-known pieces include Miss Melanie, Like Old Times, The Watermill (1958) for oboe and strings, and his Concerto for Alto Saxophone in E-flat major (1956). His largest, longest, and most ambitious work is the four-movement Symphony in C (“Saturday Symphony”), which was written during his retirement between 1966 and 1968, and performed in Britain and Germany.

Music not necessarily for contemplating the universe, but which is light, tuneful and pure innocence. Not entirely sure you would hear many of these works today, but considering Film Scores have become part of the current concert hall repertoire, light and tuneful may not be out of place at all.

You never know.

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