Arnold's genius was particuarly suited to small-scale orchestral works and every one of these examples shows his orchestral personality at its exuberant best.
The composer's standing was to be reinforced by Tam O'Shanter, a brilliantly droll portrayal, drawing on the Burns poem with a spectacular climax bringing an orchestral realisation of bagpipes. The Smoke brings a sultry atmosphere in its middle section, A Sussex Overture is jauntily characteristic ... the lively Robert Kett Overture is a recording premiere. All are most entertaining, and marvelously played... the Chandos recording is of demonstration class. Ivan March, Gramophone, 6/1/2005
Arnold's gift for melody and vivid orchestration is also a rich tapestry and is amply represented in these overtures.
...the drink-fuelled hallucinations of Tam o' Shanter [remain brilliantly inventive], ominously atmospheric, the menacing chase music among Arnold's most illustrative and compelling pages. The Smoke, depicting the London that Arnold knew in 1948, is agitated and suggestive. A Sussex Overture (for the Brighton Philharmonic Society) is exuberant... By contrast, A Grand, Grand Overture, Arnold's 1956 contribution to Gerard Hoffnung's concerts, is a decided one-off, with its gunshots and the intrusive sound of three vacuum cleaners and a floor polisher. Lithe rhythmic figures and opulent timbres abound, an organ adds weight, and the final bars form a compendium of nineteenth-century codas!
These fine performances are spectacularly recorded... Certainly the many fortissimos and grandstand finishes should see of the neighbours; one senses the composer's amusement at this. Colin Anderson, International Record Review, 6/1/2005
Arnold is arguably Britain's greatest living classical composer, and certainly one of the most prolific. He also has a wicked sense of humour as shown in A Grand Grand Festival Overture, which features three vacuum cleaners and a floor polisher. This splendid CD includes the famous Tam o'Shanter... There's also a premiere recording of what must be one of his last piees, Robert Kett, from 1990.Nick Bailey, Classic FM Magazine, 8/1/2005
Arnold's many fans will no doubt relish the whole programme, including the first recording of the 1990 Robert Kett Overture. And these are lively, well-recorded performances, with an outstanding contribution from the BBC Philharmonic brass.Anthony Burton, BBC Music Magazine, 7/1/2005