Repertoire Search

Malcolm Arnold

Publisher: Novello & Co

Concerto for Guitar & Chamber Orchestra (1959)
Publisher
Novello & Co Ltd
Category
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
1959
Duration
22 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
guitar
Orchestration


Buy this work
Worldwide Sales   North American Sales
 
Full Score Full Score
Reduced Score Reduced Score

Programme Note
Malcolm Arnold Concerto for Guitar & Chamber Orchestra (1959)
If there were anybody who still holds the belief that to write well for the guitar a Spanish surname is the sine qua non, they would probably consider Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto to be an anomaly. As it is, the Concerto is a triumphant demonstration of the versatility of the guitar, and it is not surprising that many guitarists (including myself) consider it to be one of the finest concertos in the repertoire. Very few composers, if any, have exploited the guitar’s chameleon-like characteristics and facility for allusion with such skill – its ability to go from lyricism to drama, from light-hearted joke to serious comment, the fluid personality that allows it to assume innumerable masks.

Instead of drawing from the usual Spanish well (and fishing out the usual trite clichés) Arnold chooses to take jazz as a source (at the very least, an equally valid idiom for the instrument). In fact the second movement could well be titled ‘Blue Scherzo in memorium Django Reinhardt’: seldom has the guitar been given such a wealth of emotion as in the slow sections, and the way in which it is made to hold its own against the brass instruments is a minor prodigy of orchestral mastery. The swift break into an impish and wildly virtuosic scherzo is nothing short of breath-taking. The slow movement looms largest in the memory, as it does in length – taking up about half of the entire work – but there is also much to be found in the other two movements. Arnold uses Greek models as the basis for his harmony and melody; in the first movement, a sonata form, the two main themes are each in a different mode. The mode chosen for the second theme (probably the catchiest tune in a work full of them) is the familiar major scale; rhythmic verve and lyricism here strike a perfect balance. The third movement, a rondo, begins with the main theme presented by the solo guitar; the canonic writing for the instrument is bold indeed. The guitar retains a leading role throughout all the episodes, bringing the concerto to a close with an astonishing glissando.

© Eduardo Fernández



  • Ensemble
    English Chamber Orchestra
    Soloist(s)
    Eduardo Fernandez, guitar
    Conductor
    Barry Wordsworth
    Decca:
  • Ensemble
    Orchestra of St John's
    Soloist(s)
    Michael Conn, guitar
    Conductor
    John Lubbock
    Carlton:
  • Ensemble
    Melos Ensemble
    Soloist(s)
    Julian Bream, guitar
    Conductor
    Sir Malcolm Arnold
  • Ensemble
    Melos Ensemble
    Soloist(s)
    Julian Bream, guitar
    Conductor
    Sir Malcolm Arnold
  • Ensemble
    City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    Soloist(s)
    Julian Bream, guitar
    Conductor
    Sir Simon Rattle
  • Ensemble
    Northern Sinfonia
    Soloist(s)
    Craig Ogden
    Conductor
    Richard Hickox
    Chandos:
  • Ensemble
    London Musici/ Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/ BOurnemouth Symphony Orchestra/ English Chamber Orchestra
    Soloist(s)
    Nicholas Daniel/ Karen Jones/ Michael Collins/ Richard Watkins/ David Nettle/ Richard Markham/ Tommy Reilly/ Eduardo Fernandez
    Conductor
    Mark Stephenson/ Vernon Handley/ Okko Kamu
    Conifer Records Limited:
  • Ensemble
    English Chamber Orchestra
    Soloist(s)
    Eduoardo Fernández
    Conductor
    Barry Wordsworth
    Decca:
Performances
Date
Title
Reviews
The concert, conducted by Christopher Seaman, was dedicated to English music of a gentle kind, in which the novelty was Malcolm Arnold’s guitar concerto, beautifully played by Australian-born Craig Ogden. The concerto has a chamber orchestra accompaniment for only eight players but the solo part dominates throughout and the accompanying instruments have music that is written with such imaginative sensitivity that the effect is indeed very much one of solo with accompaniment.
Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post,10/1/1996
Close X

Newsletter Signup

Please fill in this form to receive regular news




Click here to receive regular news
© Copyright 2014 Music Sales Classical. Part of the Music Sales Group.