Arnold: Symphony No 1 & 5 / Handley, Royal Po

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This coupling of Symphonies 1 and 5 is second to none, offering new insights in every movement of both symphonies.

...[T]his new Handley coupling of Nos. 1 and 5 is second to none... [T]he pungent force of the opening statement is very arresting indeed, sharply pointed and lean... The forward momentum has enormous thrust and even more vitality and edge than with Hickox, while the contrasting evocative episode has an almost eerie delicacy of texture and feeling, yet never quite loses its moments of wistful amiability. Handley moves on relentlessly and thrillingly to complete the movement in 9'51'' with a coda full of vibrant energy. His Andantino then relaxes completely, opening with delectable delicacy... In the fugal finale, Handley resolutely follows the composer’s con fuoco marking... The RPO are on their toes and there is the most delicate, bravura scherzando tracery from wind and strings, a nice touch of piquant humour at the engagingly lighthearted piccolo interlude (4'30'') and a dramatic final chorus from the full orchestra for the tune which ends the work so exuberantly and positively...

The superb Fifth Symphony ought by now to be in the concert repertory and as popular as other more famous Fifths. It has some marvellous themes and its scoring shows the composer at his most colourfully imaginative... In the first movement...Handley takes the composer’s Tempestoso marking literally (8'44'' against the composer’s 10'31''): the result sounds much more avant-garde, more dissonant in effect; in the scherzo, too, Handley really is Con fuoco and the irony is pungently emphasized at the expense of geniality. But in the slow movement Handley’s more restrained lyricism is touching by its withdrawn sparseness of sentiment, and at the work’s close the uplift of the ‘big tune’ is expansively forceful and one’s spirits rise and stay risen, for all the ambivalence of the gentle close... I enjoyed this disc very much indeed: it has new insights to offer in every movement of both symphonies. Buy it by all means.

-- Ivan March, Gramophone [10/1996]

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: CON51257

  • UPC: 756055125723

  • Label: Conifer

  • Composer: Malcolm Arnold

  • Conductor: Vernon Handley

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra


  1. Symphony no 1, Op. 22

    Composer: Malcolm Arnold

    Ensemble: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

    Conductor: Vernon Handley

  2. Symphony no 5, Op. 74

    Composer: Malcolm Arnold

    Ensemble: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

    Conductor: Vernon Handley