Malcolm Arnold: Symphony No. 9

symph-9
Symphony No.9 Op. 128
Vivace 11:43
Allegretto 07:09
Giubiloso 10:10
Lento 08:09

"In 1992, in Studio 7 at BBC Manchester, the BBC Philharmonic gave the first performance of the Symphony No.9, Opus 128, by Sir Malcolm Arnold.
Ever since Beethoven, writing a Ninth Symphony has been for a composer something akin to climbing Mount Everest - the summation of a lifetime's achievement. One of the most disturbing features of the Ninth for performers and critics alike is the amount of straightforward (or sometimes not so straightforward) repetition in the symphony, and there is also much unison writing for the instruments.
The second movement is memorable: a gentle, pastoral-like Allegretto in nine-eight time, with much of the writing in just two or three parts, and based on a haunting melancholy tune that resembles a folk- like carol.

The third movement is a noisy two-four piece marked giubiloso and not unlike many another breezy Arnold scherzo, with much prominent and tricky writing for the wind, particularly the brass, and full of characteristic Arnold clashes and dissonances within a tonal context.
... finale ... almost as long as the other three movements put together... a huge Adagio slow movement... movement is bleak and intense, spare and grief-stricken; like a gigantic funeral march it forsakes dramatic contrasts for the sake of an unbroken continuity of atmosphere: until the final bars, that is, which form a radiant resolution on to D major. Without that chord, the surrender to nihilism and despair would be total." (From the sleeve notes by Piers Burton-Page).

Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.
Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.