Residing just behind the front rank of those English composers (Britten, Elgar, Holst, Vaughan Williams, and Walton) whose names are familiar to worldwide audiences, is Malcolm Arnold (born 1921), whose music is equally beloved by his countrymen. In addition to nine (so far) symphonies and countless concertos, Arnold's output includes five sets of dances, one each from the regions with make up the UK (hence, there are Irish, Welsh, Cornish, English, and, of course, Scottish Dances).
The final two of Arnold's Four Scottish Dances offer significant contrasts. The one marked Con brio swaggers and swirls in rowdy fashion; it's over almost before it begins. The more extended Allegretto (which uses a Robert Burns tune as its main theme) is haunting and nostalgic; the composer described it as "in the style of a Hebridean Song [which] attempts to give an impression of the sea and the mountain scenery on a calm summer's day in the Hebrides."
-- Note by Dennis Bade, Associate Director of Publications for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association