Composed in the mid-1970s, at a time when Malcolm Arnold’s personal life was becoming increasingly unstable, his Fantasy on a Theme of John Field for piano and orchestra is both one of his most disturbing and highly compelling musical statements. A widely impassioned work, in which the orchestra frequently assaults the piano and offers shattering rebukes on its beauty, it is full of brutal contrasts and erratic shifts of mood. Nevertheless, the 22-minute work ends with an affirmation of hope.
‘Another astonishing creation… wholly characteristic in its urgently communicative manner.’
Gramophone (Andrew Achenbach), July 2015