Federation Of Recorded Music Societies Bulletin

In the year of his 85th birthday the music of Sir Malcolm Arnold is seeing something of a comeback. As a tribute to this witty and humorous composer, Divine Art has issued a world-première recording of his only work for chorus and orchestra, The Return of Odysseus. The librettist was Patric Dickinson who effectively condensed Homer’s great epic poem Odyssey into 30 minutes of witty text in simple, robust language.

Typically Arnoldesque, the setting is clear cut with a lovely mix of rollicking tunes and more tender romantic passages. The work is a great addition to the English choral repertoire and, hopefully, will be heard more often in future.

Also on this CD of works for chorus and orchestra are Vaughan Williams’ beautiful setting of Walt Whitman’s Toward the Unknown Region and Milhaud’s piece for wind-band Suite Française, brightly adapted by the composer as an orchestral version. In the Arnold and Vaughan Williams works the chorus sounds disappointingly woolly in places, although overall the recording is very agreeable and well recommended.

—TMS