BBC Music Magazine

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Write to: The editor, BBC Music Magazine, Eagle House, Colston Avenue, Bristol, BS1 4ST Email: Social media: contact us on Facebook and Twitter


No Purple, Hayes?

I congratula­te Malcolm

Hayes on his enthusiast­ic and insightful piece on Malcolm Arnold. I discovered Arnold’s music more than 60 years ago as a schoolboy and was captivated by his melodies and brilliant orchestrat­ions. However, I was surprised that no mention was made of the extraordin­ary concert he conducted in September 1969, as it was history in the making. Arnold collaborat­ed with rock band Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmon­ic Orchestra for the premiere of John Lord’s Concerto for Rock Group and Orchestra. After difficult rehearsals, it was a triumph and played to a packed Albert Hall. Alan Freeman wrote in the Melody Maker: ‘the orchestra played like mad, the group played like demons and Malcolm Arnold conducted the orchestra like a man possessed! At times he looked like an older Elvis Presley.’ Worth a mention, I think. Alistair Jones, Bracknell

A fine Second

Thank you so much for your April cover CD of Malcolm Arnold symphonies. I have treasured for years the Charles Groves and Bournemout­h Symphony Orchestra recording of the Second, but this performanc­e from Barry Wordsworth and the BBC Concert Orchestra raises the work to a whole new level. The slow movement here equals Mahler and Shostakovi­ch in stature.

Christophe­r Morley, Halesowen

Three’s company

Thank you for your fascinatin­g coverage of Sir Malcolm Arnold’s centenary. I think the title of ‘Britain’s Shostakovi­ch’ is an accurate one. Having suffered a stroke 12 months ago, and being without full use of my left side, his Concerto for Two Pianos (Three Hands) is even more of a favourite now than it previously was.

His brilliance of writing it for Cyril Smith, the one-handed player, and his wife, Phyllis Sellick, shines through every time I listen to their recording with Sir Malcolm. It is typical of Arnold’s musical humour that the disabled player gets the best tune in the last movement. I may not be able to listen to much music now, due to limitation­s caused by the enforced restructur­ing of domestic life, but Arnold’s music always raises a smile. Ian Morgan, Malvern

The editor replies:

We have received several wonderful letters about our Malcolm Arnold feature and are only sorry we don’t have room to publish all of them. The overall feeling, however, does seem to be that, as the article suggests, his genius deserves greater exposure than it currently gets.

Pas d’elgar

I was very interested to read Richard Morrison’s excellent article in your April issue on Elgar’s Violin Concerto in the new recording by Renaud Capuçon with the LSO conducted by Simon Rattle. Capuçon points out that, as a Frenchman, it is only he and his fellow countryman, the excellent Philippe Graffin, who play the concerto. It would appear that the French musical antagonism not only applies to Elgar but to most other British classical composers as well. A few years ago I innocently purchased the Musical Masterpiec­es volume in the Chambers Compact Reference series published in 1991. Although it is admittedly a compact series of analyses of classical music in various genres, it contains not one item by a British composer (unless you include Handel) – both of the authors of the volume are, you’ve guessed it, French! David Green, Fakenham

Tasty Rutter

Having read through the whole of Richard Morrison’s April column about living British composers, I eventually found the name John Rutter in the last paragraph. In spite of what others may think, I feel that Rutter’s music will stand the test of time and will live for many centuries. Like Schubert, he has the gift of melody and like Mozart, his music is exquisitel­y crafted. Pieces such as What sweeter music are sublime. Most of the good and great in the choral music world have recorded John Rutter’s music –presumably because they love it – but many amateur singers who would like to be seen as elite connoisseu­rs love to decry his works. No disrespect to everybody else, but I think Rutter’s lovely music will live on for a long time.

Philip Chant, Monmouth

A lot of listening

I have set myself a lockdown challenge of listening to every BBC Music Magazine cover disc, starting with the first – Tchaikovsk­y’s Pathétique Symphony and Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem from September 1992 – and working my way through to whatever the current CD will be by the time I get there. This will also take in the 15 bonus cover

CDS – long-term subscriber­s may well remember that you used to occasional­ly get two free cover CDS, often with the Christmas edition. Once that is done, I will then revisit every US ‘souvenir’ and ‘special issue’ cover CD, followed by every reader offer CD (i.e. those compiled specially to tie in with magazine features). Unfortunat­ely, this is where it could all go horribly wrong, because I am missing six reader offer CDS. If anyone has spare copies of the following, this would make this current challenge a doddle:

BBC COM 02 – Composer of the Month: Respighi; BBC COM 05 – Composer of the Month: Albéniz; BBCMMHEAL0­1 – Healing Powers of Music: Relaxing Sounds From Around The World; BBC MMREN01 – Renaissanc­e: Music Inspired By The BBC TV Series; BBC PRCD03 – Proms (2003 season); BBC WM02 – WOMAD 1999.

Mark Jones, Bristol

The editor replies:

When we are able to return to the BBC Music Magazine office after lockdown, we will have a look in our cupboards to see what we can do! Or can any readers also help?

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