Author Topic: The Cooke Book  (Read 13250 times)

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Offline Lethevich

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The Cooke Book
« on: March 19, 2010, 08:53:36 AM »
A thread for all things Arnold Cooke (1906–2005). Taking bets on how many posts it will take to die ;D

Anyway, Cooke wrote in what seems to have been the lingua franca of European classical music in the mid-century - a kind of Romantic-tinged neoclassicism. The forms are tightly controlled, but unlike Stravinsky, they are not brief, often quite broad canvases (Holmboe may be one of the more well-known proponents of this style) allowing for a more emotional impact rather than Stravinsky's ice bath. This style was highly influenced by Hindemith, whom Cooke studied with, and as a result his music is not stereotypically English sounding - and is all the better for it. Anybody familiar with adventure film scores of the 50s-70s will recognise strains of this style.

Notable CDs:






As you can see, most of what is available are simply scraps on multi-composer compilations, which makes experiencing an overview of the composer difficult. I have only heard three of these CDs so far. On the plus side, the music he is coupled with tends to be very good as well - so, for example, I found the Hyperion clarinet quintets disc very enjoyable due to the high quality of all the music programmed.

The three major CDs I place at the top due to their quality and the large amount of Cooke's music featured on them. The disc with the 3rd on may be a shared programme, but it is almost worth the price just for that one piece, which is just riproaring fun. The Brian pieces make a more than pleasant "bonus", both being first-rate compositions and well-recorded (rare for this composer).

The Cooke-exclusive Lyrita disc is a no-brainer introduction to the composer. The concerto for string orchestra is stunning, with a surprisingly direct opening movement which is almost poppish in its wonderfully simple and yet rousing modifications of the theme. It's a good example of both Cooke's intentionally limited palette for the sake of clarity, but also his life-affirming style which tends to leave you smiling. The 1st symphony is superb, but as it is less familiar to me than the 3rd - which I have been listening to many times over the past 6 months or so - I don't rank it quite up with that work just yet. The "filler" on this disc is a suite from an opera which is a phantasmagorical series of orchestral dances, and a great counter-balance to the weight of the "serious" 1st symphony programmed in the middle of the disc.

The Hyperion discs I put on the second tier, because while they do not have much Cooke included, the programmes are very attractive and they are all re-releases on the label's budget series. I can fully recommend the clarinet quintets disc, and intend to buy the other two asap. As for the other porpourri of discs? A mystery to me. A potentially expensive mystery...

The decider: do you like Hindemith, Arnold, Walton and similar composers? Do you wonder what something of a stylistic hybrid of these might sound like? Try him!
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Online vandermolen

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2010, 01:26:20 AM »
Well, here's one response anyway! This thread has encouraged me to listen to my two Arnold Cooke CDs (the Lyritas). The style reminds me of Lennox Berkeley (a composer I admire), Bliss, Rawsthorne as well as Hindemith. There is a whif of the 'Cheltenham symphony' about some of the music (ie mid 20th century symphonies performed at the annual Cheltenham Festival, which tended to be worthy, well-constructed and ultimately unmemorable - this is of course a gross generalisation and there were very important exceptions, like Stanley Bate's Third Symphony - a terrific work). Having said this I really enjoyed Cooke's Third Symphony - the slow movement in particular - the moving end of which briefly brings to mind Copland. My other favourite piece was the very enjoyable 'Jabez and the Devil', which I immediately wanted to play again. The Lyrita Brian release was delayed as they couldn't find a suitable coupling - eventually they chose Cooke's Third Symphony, which has nothing in common with Havergal Brian, although Brian thought very highly of Cooke's music.  I will certainly be returning to Symphony No 3 and the Jabez Suite.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2010, 02:33:08 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline Lethevich

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2010, 09:31:10 AM »
Yay! It was the slow movement of the third that sold me too. It was as if suddenly neoclassical music had gained an emotionality to it that I hadn't heard before.
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Offline donaldopato

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2010, 02:42:16 PM »
A vote for the wonderful Lyrita recordings! I came to enjoy Cooke through the 3rd, which accompanied the Brian Symphonies that were the main reason for buying the disc. But the Cooke convinced me to explore further and get the other Lyrita disc. I quite enjoy the well written Concerto in D for Strings.

I will have to explore some of the chamber works and the clarinet concerto.
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Online vandermolen

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2010, 02:32:12 AM »
Yay! It was the slow movement of the third that sold me too. It was as if suddenly neoclassical music had gained an emotionality to it that I hadn't heard before.

Yes, that is a really good way of putting it - my response exactly.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Scarpia

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2010, 11:34:42 PM »
Listened to the Cooke selection from this disc today (Clarinet Quintet with Thea King).



I very nice piece, doesn't sound like it was written in 1962, but beautifully crafted with endearing snatches of melody throughout.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2010, 04:27:32 PM »
:)

Forum member J very kindly sent  me two broadcast recordings of Cooke's cello and violin concertos. These have never been issued in any form, so it was an extremely kind gesture to allow me to hear what would otherwise be literaly impossible to. I figure this demands sharing for anybody in future with an interest in the composer, so here it is (a choice of host and two cobbled together custom covers - I lack a working copy of Photoshop so Paint had to suffice :P).

http://rapidshare.com/files/378867126/c00kelo55y.rar.html
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=0J6NUW3J

The sound quality from these tapes of course leaves much to be desired, it doesn't sound worse than many historical recordings, but none the less, that I am comparing performances from the 70s or thereabouts to historical recordings should indicate the sound quality we're dealing with here. The cello concerto sounds good throughout once you attune your ears. Minimal hiss, and a little tape flutter at one point. The violin concerto is worse and with hiss throughout, so the primary attraction here is the cello concerto, which is a lovely piece of music and fully of the quality of other commercial recordings of his music released so far. Very of its time, and would we hear such enthusiastic applause for a premiere performance of a piece of music nowadays? It must be a rarity.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Elnimio

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2011, 09:25:03 PM »
Symphony 3 = yes please

Offline Christo

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2011, 10:16:53 AM »
The concerto for string orchestra is stunning [...]. The 1st symphony is superb

Missed this thread earlier, as it won't show up even with the help of the search button (try `Arnold Cooke'). I would have responded more eagerly, as I totally agree with all you write. Indeed, Cooke's First Symphony from 1947 is the best newcomer I've heard in many years - other contenders including the Third and Fourth by Stanley Bate and Fourth Symphony of Ruth Gipps.

Cooke's First is a fine masterwork, one of the most convincing first symphonies that I know. Cooke's neoclassical style, yet always lyrical as well, reminds me more of Lennox Berkeley than of his teacher Hindemith.

It would be great to have a cycle of his six symphonies (with only two recorded so far), his many concertos (with again only two availabe, a clarinet and a recorder concerto) and so much more.

If I had a say, I would plead with Dutton for complete symphonic cycles of Arnold Cooke, Ruth Gipps, William Wordsworth, and Stanley Bate.  :)
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2011, 10:34:41 AM »
Missed this thread earlier, as it won't show up even with the help of the search button (try `Arnold Cooke'). I would have responded more eagerly, as I totally agree with all you write. Indeed, Cooke's First Symphony from 1947 is the best newcomer I've heard in many years - other contenders including the Third and Fourth by Stanley Bate and Fourth Symphony of Ruth Gipps.

Cooke's First is a fine masterwork, one of the most convincing first symphonies that I know. Cooke's neoclassical style, yet always lyrical as well, reminds me more of Lennox Berkeley than of his teacher Hindemith.

It would be great to have a cycle of his six symphonies (with only two recorded so far), his many concertos (with again only two availabe, a clarinet and a recorder concerto) and so much more.

If I had a say, I would plead with Dutton for complete symphonic cycles of Arnold Cooke, Ruth Gipps, William Wordsworth, and Stanley Bate.  :)

Johan, first of all so nice to speak with you again :)

As I think will be pretty obvious from my posts on here I could not agree with you more about the complete symphonic cycles you are suggesting ;D ;D

I am not sure if you know yet but I have discovered that I still possess taped versions of Cooke's Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5 which I hope to make available to others in due course and that all of the Wordsworth symphonies except for Nos. 2 and 3(which are on the Lyrita cd) and No.6(which has never been performed) are available for download on the Unsung Composers Forum.

Renfield

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2011, 04:25:18 PM »
Any relation to Deryck Cooke?


(Spot the learned contributor. ;D)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2011, 05:19:57 PM »
Arnold was born in Gomersal, West Yorkshire. His family were well-off carpet manufacturers and he was educated at Repton (public school, ie private if you you don't understand Britain's unique education system ;D).

Deryck came from Leicester and was born into a poor working-class family....

So...No, Eugene ;D ;D

Renfield

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2011, 08:23:11 PM »
Arnold was born in Gomersal, West Yorkshire. His family were well-off carpet manufacturers and he was educated at Repton (public school, ie private if you you don't understand Britain's unique education system ;D).

Deryck came from Leicester and was born into a poor working-class family....

So...No, Eugene ;D ;D

I do understand Britain's unique education system, via my father, though I sometimes wish I didn't! :P

And though the Cookes turned out unrelated, it's interesting to note how the least posh one became the renowned musicologist.

Online vandermolen

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2011, 12:02:45 PM »
Missed this thread earlier, as it won't show up even with the help of the search button (try `Arnold Cooke'). I would have responded more eagerly, as I totally agree with all you write. Indeed, Cooke's First Symphony from 1947 is the best newcomer I've heard in many years - other contenders including the Third and Fourth by Stanley Bate and Fourth Symphony of Ruth Gipps.

Cooke's First is a fine masterwork, one of the most convincing first symphonies that I know. Cooke's neoclassical style, yet always lyrical as well, reminds me more of Lennox Berkeley than of his teacher Hindemith.

It would be great to have a cycle of his six symphonies (with only two recorded so far), his many concertos (with again only two availabe, a clarinet and a recorder concerto) and so much more.

If I had a say, I would plead with Dutton for complete symphonic cycles of Arnold Cooke, Ruth Gipps, William Wordsworth, and Stanley Bate.  :)

Totally agree with you about the Ruth Gipps Symphony No 4 - her masterpiece I expect (although I like the Symphony No 2 on Classico - a very endearing score). I'd also like to see Dutton take up the cause of Wilfrid Josephs. I heard that they were intending to record 'Moeran's Second Symphony'  :o

Nice to hear from you Johan  :)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2011, 01:36:25 PM »
Totally agree with you about the Ruth Gipps Symphony No 4 - her masterpiece I expect (although I like the Symphony No 2 on Classico - a very endearing score). I'd also like to see Dutton take up the cause of Wilfrid Josephs. I heard that they were intending to record 'Moeran's Second Symphony'  :o

Nice to hear from you Johan  :)

Presumably this refers to Moeran's unfinished Symphony in E flat major, the manuscript of which went to Australia after his death. Someone must have reconstructed/finished the piece. This seems to be becoming quite a common practice these days-the 'new' Pettersson 1st Symphony springs to mind.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2011, 01:45:09 PM by Dundonnell »

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2011, 01:41:28 PM »
Nice thread. I really should listen to Cooke, as I have his Third on a certain Lyrita CD... But as the saying goes - Too many Brians spoil the Cooke.
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2011, 01:45:49 PM »
Nice thread. I really should listen to Cooke, as I have his Third on a certain Lyrita CD... But as the saying goes - Too many Brians spoil the Cooke.

Well now, Johan...you know what to do about that ;D

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2011, 01:53:40 PM »
Well now, Johan...you know what to do about that ;D


And I still have Bernard Stevens to attend to! [these past few days have been a bit hectic...]
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2011, 01:58:07 PM »

And I still have Bernard Stevens to attend to! [these past few days have been a bit hectic...]

Take your time...no rush ;D

Online vandermolen

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Re: The Cooke Book
« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2011, 12:43:19 AM »
Nice thread. I really should listen to Cooke, as I have his Third on a certain Lyrita CD... But as the saying goes - Too many Brians spoil the Cooke.

Very funny - I wonder if we are heading inexorably towards the formation of a group of self-appointed, so-called 'Arnold Cooke experts'.

 ;D
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).