Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 7
Sound Quality: 9
This very well played and sympathetically conducted release does nothing to dispel the impression Richard Arnell’s music makes of a dutiful, well-trained, conservative composer with nothing especially distinctive or moving to say. The Fourth Symphony strikes me as the better of the two, mainly because it’s shorter and has a particularly engaging finale. The Fifth, whose three movements take some 35 minutes, suffers from an oversupply of andante tempos and thematic material that disappears from memory almost as soon as it’s played. I can certainly imagine these pieces proving enjoyable enough on casual acquaintance, but I can attest to the fact that their charms rapidly diminish on repetition. Music written in this sort of bygone Romantic style thrives on its ability to communicate emotionally, and that means (issues of form aside) writing expressive tunes and scoring them arrestingly. Arnell does neither (compare him in this respect to, say, George Lloyd), and the best efforts of conductor Martin Yates can’t disguise this fact, nor does fine playing and good engineering.
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: none
RICHARD ARNELL - Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5