I have long been a devotee of the music of Malcolm Arnold. More than that, Vernon Handley is one of the most underestimated conductors alive today. What a great pleasure for me then to find that my library's network had a copy of this delightful CD.
While I will swear to my dying day by Andrew Penny's recordinings of Arnold's symphonies and dances (on Naxos), one could not ask for a better outing than this disc. There are some fun pieces here: A Grand, Grand Overture, the Carnival of Animals, and (in my opinion--the most fun) The Concerto for 2 Pianos (3 hands). To that add a very good reading of the second symphony and you have a very, very interesting and engaging CD.
Malcolm Arnold is the perfect musical expression of the great revolution of the Twentieth Century: Britain and its culture begin triumphant and then the whole world and all its influences crash in--making life somehow both broader and smaller--but certainly more interesting.
In the vast sweep of time, this fascinating man's name is destined to be whispered in relation to his only equals in the last century: Mahler and Vaughan Williams.
If you want a great place to start exploring this truly great composer, this disc, and the disc of Dances conducted by Andrew Penny are two very worthwhile places to start.
I give this CD my full recommendation.