Friday, May 26, 2017

Cooke, Arnold. (1906-2005) Orchestral Works. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 14-3-2010.
Second listen: 8-4-2014.
Third listen: 26-5-2017.
Label: Lyrita.
This is a CDR copy not a pressed one, as with almost all Re-releases by this label.
Recording dates. 1988, 1989, 1974..
Recording venues: Henry Wood Hall, London, Watford Town Hall, Kingsway Hall, London.
Recording engineers: Simon Eadon, Mark Vigars, Kenneth Wilkinson.
Running time: 70:53.
Relevance to me:Essential.
Reference recording.
State of the Art sound.
Top recommendation.

Works.
Concerto in D for String orchestra. (1948)
Symphony N0 1. (1947)
Jabez and the Devil, Suite from the Ballet. (1959) [Digitally remastered by Simon Gibson]


Performers.
London PO, Nicholas Braithwaite.

Make no mistake, Cooke is formidable orchestrator,  and unjustly forgotten too.
Havergal Brian thought highly of Cooke. He said this on the basis of just a few works he heard, but yet was convinced Cooke was already a composer of great promise. Listening to his music I understand Brian's praise. 
He was a pupil of Hindemith, and you certainly hear traces in his music, albeit in a context that has nothing in common with his teacher. Cooke was however influenced by him, of this there is no doubt. His sense of technique and direction came from Hindemith. And added to that the English lyricism and pastoral lucidity.. His modernity is friendly, and harmonious. The Concerto in D is a gorgeous piece and has some sumptuous parts for strings, highly romantic in nature. Not wholly in the British tradition, but imbued with more continental influences, although it's hard to define them. A bit neoclassical. The mood can be pensive and pastoral, but also crisp and rhythmically. 
The Symphony is a more ambitious work, were a lot of thought has gone into the structure, a serious and deeply spiritual composition. The third movement is a statement as such in this vein, beautifully crafted, and with a profound musical statement. A work both turbulent in expression, and articulated in a very determined way. Its subtle and profound at the same time, imbued with a aesthetic empathy, that reminded me however slight, of Hindemith. This purely musical design of the symphony has great clarity, energy and abundant richness. Absolute beauty. 
A Ballet is always welcome with me, and certainly one I never heard before. It's a lively Suite, well scored, and very creatively done.  Must have been a lot of fun composing this. The Devil has a large part in it, so it's a bit unruly, no humpty dump, but some profound dialogue in which the Devil shows his true colours.  The performances are excellent, and the sound is  State of the Art. 



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