Friday, October 22, 2021

more on Malcolm Arnold

When I posted for Malcolm Arnold's centenary yesterday morning, I was in a hurry, for a Reason to be Named Later, so I didn't have time to put up more than the basic dance sets. But today I have the time to bring up a little more Malcolm Arnold.

First is a video of the only live concert performance I've ever come across of one of Arnold's symphonies. And it's his Fifth, the best work of the bunch. Even though it's a community orchestra and a little rough, it's actually a very good performance. If I'd known about this before it happened four years ago, I'd seriously have considered going to Phoenix to hear it. At least I can get the videorecording.

And when I wrote my long post on Arnold several years back, I said that someday I wanted to annotate the jokes in Arnold's staggeringly ridiculous parody of Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3. Well, today is that day. This parody was one of several pieces that Arnold wrote for the comedy concerts that the cartoonist and musical humorist Gerard Hoffnung put on in the 1950s.

The original concerts exist only in audiorecordings, but fortunately a Hoffnung revival concert was put on in Prague, of all places, in 1992, and that was videorecorded, so you can see the visual jokes as well as hear the audible ones. You can watch the entire concert here and here - the overture is near the start of the second part - but here's a clip of just the overture, with my comments below.

(Note that throughout the work, the orchestration is coarsened, with added thumps, whoops, and blats)
0.07-0.20 Opening chord held for several bars
0.28-0.58 Conductor responds to diminuendo by crouching behind podium
1.08 Portamento swoop by violins
1.40 Extra punch in a sforzando chord
2.37-2.44 Must be a pop tune that's inserted into the flute part here, but I don't know its source
3.06-3.18 First insertion in the wrong place of the offstage trumpet call scheduled for later in the work
3.29 Tutti chord fails to arrive on schedule as the separating wind chords just keep going
3.31-3.45 Tutti chords continue not to match when the conductor expects them
4.29-5.30 Main theme of the piece (in altered form) transferred to oompah band which marches onstage here
6.16-6.19 Particularly over-coarsened chords here
6.36-6.46 Here's that offstage trumpet call in the wrong place again
7.06-7.15 A little added percussion
7.52-8.06 And the offstage trumpet call misplaced yet again
8.07-8.14 Duple-time music turned into triple-time oompah
8.22-8.30 This time the conductor dances along with the triple-time oompah
8.50-8.58 And when the offstage trumpet is supposed to play? Nothing
8.58-9.14 Conductor backs up four bars and tries again. This time he gets the main-theme oompah band
9.30-10.15 And for the second scheduled appearance of the offstage trumpet? We get all the trumpets in the world and they won't stop until the conductor holds up a red flag
(At this point we just skip over the entire recapitulation and go straight to the coda)
10.35-10.50 Violins get stuck and won't go into the closing Presto until somebody blows a whistle
(11.39 Here most of the coda is also cut)

And here's one more amusing Arnold work, a suite of his music for the 1954 comedy film The Belles of St. Trinian's.

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