"Arnold was an admirer of the Fine Arts Brass Ensemble and composed the Second Brass Quintet especially for them. His writing for brass has enormous flair and his ready melodic felicity (and wit) illuminates every piece. While the Symphony is the major work here, the First Brass Quintet of 1961, with its central Chaconne, and the three Little Suites consistently show the quality of his invention, as do the solo Fantasias. The performances here are superb, wonderfully proficient and spontaneous, and richly blended, sonorous recording is very much in the demonstration class." The Penguin Guide
This recording turned out to be a memorial to the composer who died on 23 September 2006, and what a fitting memorial it was. In addition to being a gifted and under-appreciated composer, Malcolm Arnold had been a first-class trumpeter, having played in both the BBC Symphony and London Philharmonic orchestras. He always displayed a real affinity for writing for the trumpet and for the other brass instruments as well. Evidence of that is clearly demonstrated here in performances of exciting virtuosity and joy. If you are looking for Arnold’s brass chamber music, this is the disc for you. All of the performances here are first class in every way and the recorded sound is at the same high level. The disc’s program is well laid out, too, with various fantasies for individual instruments interspersed between the larger ensemble works. There isn’t a dud among them either, though I would suggest dipping into a few at a time rather than listening straight through the program. The CD ends with Arnold’s most ambitious work for brass, the Symphony for Brass.
Especially telling in the Nimbus recording is the antiphonal dueling of the trumpets in the finale of the Quintet. They are clearly divided between left and right and result in a real dialogue. If your primary interest is in Arnold's brass music, then the choice has to be this Nimbus disc.
The Nimbus disc has good notes on the works and a centre photo of the Fine Arts Brass and colleagues at the recording of the Symphony. There's also a fine photo of the composer with his trumpet on the booklet cover. For all brass aficionados and Malcolm Arnold fans.
Leslie Wright, Musicweb-internationa.com