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CHAN 10550
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CHAN 10550

Arnold: Ballet Music

The Classical Shop
release date: October 2009

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2009


BBC Philharmonic

Rumon Gamba


Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester


Brian Pidgeon

Mike George


Stephen Rinker

Michael Smith


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 75:18
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Suite from 'Homage to the Queen', Op. 42 (1953)

  Prepared by the composer  
1 I Prelude and Opening Scene. Allegro moderato - Marziale - 4:31
2 II Dance of the Insects. Allegro scherzando (Pas de six) - 1:06
3 III Water. Poco lento - Vivace - [L'istesso tempo] (Pas de trois) - 5:13
  Waltz - [L'istesso tempo] (First Girl's Solo) -  
  Poco più mosso (Second Girl's Solo) -  
  Waltz Tempo I (Pas de trois) - Allegretto -  
4 IV Fire Dance. Allegro con brio (Man's Solo) - 0:59
5 V Pas de deux. Adagio non troppo - Poco agitato - 5:09
6 VI Finale. Maestoso - Marziale - Moderato e maestoso (Vision) 2:26

Rinaldo and Armida, Op. 49 (1954)

  Dance-drama in One Act  
7 Lento - 3:20
8 Moderato - Andantino - Moderato - Allegro agitato - 4:22
9 Vivace - Lento - Vivace - Moderato - Lento - 2:04
10 Poco lento (Pas de deux) - Moderato - Allegretto - 3:54
11 Andante con moto - Poco più mosso - Andante con moto - 4:12
12 Lento - Vivace molto - Lento 3:02

Concert Suite from 'Sweeney Todd', Op. 68a (1959)

  Prepared 1984 by David Ellis in association with the composer  
13 Moderato e misterioso - Vivace - Meno mosso - 3:17
14 Allegretto - Vivace - 1:33
15 Vivace - Allegro moderato - 1:58
16 Allegro vivace - Allegro frenetico - 2:11
17 Allegretto - 1:38
18 Andante - Allegro - Pas de quatre - Vivace - Moderato - 5:39
19 Allegro con brio - Allegretto (pas de deux) - Più mosso - 3:57
premiere recording

Electra, Op. 79 (1963)

  Ballet in One Act  
20 Lento - Vivace - Vivace - 4:09
21 Lento - Allegro ma non troppo - Moderato - 6:30
22 Vivace - Lento 4:08

Rumon Gamba: ‘Having recorded symphonies and film music by Malcolm Arnold and knowing how well his music is received by audiences around the world, I was surprised that there was no disc dedicated solely to his music for the ballet.  The four scores featured here on this disc have such strong musical ideas and dramatic narrative, to say nothing of their sheer beauty and passion, that they come alive as pieces of music in their own right.  And such contrasts on this programme – brutality and energy (Electra), sweeping romanticism (Rinaldo and Armida) and humour in all its guises (Sweeney Todd).  I particularly enjoyed recording Rinaldo and Armida which deserves its place in the repertoire alongside those ballet scores we hear all too often in the concert hall.’  
Arnold’s first ballet score, Homage to the Queen was commissioned to honour the Queen’s Coronation and performed by the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in 1953.  The Times wrote of the 2006 Royal Ballet revival: “Malcolm Arnold’s score is rich in majesty and filled with colour.  A pleasure to hear it again.”  The ballet suite begins with a Prelude strongly reminiscent of the ceremonial idiom of William Walton’s Coronation marches.  The initial success of Homage quickly led to another ballet commission for Arnold.  In 1954 he composed Rinaldo and Armida, a one-act ‘dance drama’, and guest-conducted the first performance himself at the Royal Opera House on January 1955.  Rinaldo was based on an episode from Torquato Tasso’s poem Ierusalemme liberate (1581).   Electra, which here receives is premiere recording was commissioned by the Royal Ballet and first performed in 1963.  This work allowed Arnold to tap the darker side of his musical personality, as evidenced in several of his mature symphonies.  
Chandos is well known for its recordings of Malcolm Arnold’s music – indeed, they are generally acknowledged by most to rank amongst the finest available – and the recordings of Arnold’s film music are best sellers.  
This unique anthology of ballet music should prove as popular, for the music is similarly illustrative and entertaining.  Few of the ballets are represented in the catalogue and one has never before been recorded (Elektra). However they aptly demonstrate Malcolm Arnold’s versatility, covering a broad range of musical moods. 

“Good notes; fine playing. I recommend this CD to Arnold admirers…”

Paul Ingram

Fanfare - March/April 2010

“…He [Arnold] has posthumously found his definitive interpreter in Rumon Gamba, these performances that mirror the music itself in their ultra-clear verve and colour. 
Performance ****    Recording ****

Malcolm Hayes


BBC Music Magazine - March 2010

                       Recording of the Month

"...Over the years Malcolm Arnold’s music has been well served on CD and I have many excellent discs of his music on my shelves. But I fancy this is one of the finest of all. The BBC Philharmonic plays superbly throughout and Rumon Gamba confirms his excellent credentials as an Arnold interpreter that I first encountered in his disc of Arnold overtures a few years ago. Throw into the mix recorded sound in the demonstration class and you have a disc that no admirer of Arnold’s music will want to be without."
John Quinn

"...As usual with Chandos the sound is splendid..."
Rob Barnett

MusicWeb International - February 2010

“...With this disc, Chandos further strengthens its enviable track records of resurrecting forgotten British gems….Arnold’s ballet music couldn’t have found better ambassadors then the BBC Phil and Gamba; the sense of ‘first night’ excitement and drama they’ve created leaves one aching to see all four onstage, preferably with these great musicians in the orchestra pit."

Charlotte Gardner

Classic FM Magazine - February 2010

“The disc of Malcolm Arnold’s ballet music is no slouch in the sound department. Chandos, since their inception, have consistently produced recordings of demonstration quality. It is their style to place you in about the 15th row and the orchestra in back of the speaker plane. From there the well defined sound stage is wide and deep and the orchestra’s height seems realistic. It is right there, before you, on stage. Chandos have an equally impressive artistic record. The music on this disc is spacious and airy and well played. There is some heavy duty percussion at the beginning of Electra that is solid and startling. I enjoy listening to Arnold’s music, lots of good tunes, clear ideas and he was a masterful orchestrator. The ballet music offers much enjoyable listening and deserves consideration as a complement to his more substantial symphonies”

Bob Oxley

Audio Ideas Guide - 4 January 2010

"Malcolm Arnold’s name doesn’t automatically spring to mind as a major ballet composer, though in the 50’s and 60’s he provided an impressive roster of chorographers.. with a series of scores that in their time were both admired and controversial. Listening to the selection recorded here, you’re conscious of the variable mixture of practicality and inspiration that went into them. …The performances, with Rumon Gamba conducting the BBC Philharmonic, are terrific."

Tim Ashley


The Guardian - 8 January 2010

“This valuable addition to the Arnold discography includes several works new to disc. Given the nature of his inspiration, it is odd that Arnold did not write more ballets, so we must be grateful for these four very different works. …throughout this exceptionally well recorded CD I have been consistently taken by the quality of Gamba’s conducting and by the orchestral playing, the musicians clearly relishing this powerful and highly individual music.”

Robert Matthew-Walker

Musical Opinion - November/December 2009

“…Hearing this tender, exuberant music, one can be thankful that it has come to the attention of the BBC Philharmonic, which plays it with affection and panache.”                 

Geoffrey Norris


Daily Telegraph - 24 October 2009

“Malcolm Arnold’s great ballet scores championed with heart-warming commitment.”… “I need merely confirm that the BBC Philharmonic respond with commendable polish and gusto for Rumon Gamba, and their efforts have been afforded typically ripe and lustrous Chandos sound. A hearty endorsement whichever way you look at it.”

****** Editor’s Choice ******

Andrew Achenbach


Gramophone - December 2009

“This welcome disc from the BBC Philharmonic and Rumon Gamba brings together for the first time four of his ballet scores from the 1950’s and 1960’s when the composer was at the height of his powers.” “ … under Gamba, they [BBC Philharmonic]play these works with great passion and verve and make this a disc that every lover of Arnold’s music will want to own. The sound quality is excellent and there is an informative note in the booklet.”

Peter Marchbank

International Record Review - November 2009