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Arnold Cooke: Chamber Music

Cookie / Lodge / Williams / Schulman / Jaggard
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog #: 7247   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Arnold Cooke
Performer:  Raphael TerroniMelanie LodgeLorraine SchulmanJonathan Jaggard,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

COOKE Piano Sonatas: 1 No. 1; No. 2 in B?. 3 Songs of Innocence. 2 Rondo in B?. 3 Flute Quartet 4. Nocturnes 5 1,2,3,5 Raphael Terroni (pn); 2,5 Melanie Lodge (sop); 4 Read more class="ARIAL12">Patrick Williams (fl); 2 Lorraine Schulman (cl); 3,5 Jonathan Jaggard (hn); 4 Warren Zielinski (vn); 4 Morgan Goff (va); 4 Justin Pearson (vc) DUTTON EPOCH 7247 (76:32)

The name of Arnold Cooke (1906–2005) has somehow snuck under the radar of most record companies. I remember preparing for an examination as a horn player and having to present the Rondo heard on this disc, and thinking exactly who was Arnold Cooke? Calum MacDonald’s excellent liner notes tell us that Cooke was lauded by the composer Havergal Brian, no less, in 1936 (in Musical Opinion ). Collectors from the LP era may remember a Lyrita LP of Cooke’s Symphony No. 3 and the Suite from Jabez and the Devil (the symphony reappeared on a Lyrita CD coupled with Brian’s Sixth and 16th Symphonies, Lyrita 295, reviewed by Phillip Scott in Fanfare 32:2; Jabez is on SRCD 203, along with the First Symphony and the Concerto in D for string orchestra).

Cooke was a pupil of Hindemith in Berlin. He taught at what was then the Royal Manchester College of Music until the Second World War; after, he became a lecturer at London’s Trinity College of Music. MacDonald compares Cooke’s music to that of Rubbra: “a composer whose art is at once un-sensational yet profound.”

The two piano sonatas bookend this disc. The Piano Sonata No. 1, written in 1938 and only published in 2005, includes nods to Hindemith in its propulsive first movement. The dark harmonic shadings of the extended (8:18) slow movement only serve to highlight the radiance of the English pastoral harmonies at the movement’s heart. Raphael Terroni is a most persuasive advocate, particularly in the passages of sweet lyricism. His strong fingers negotiate the tricky passagework of the busy finale with expertise while honoring the passages of delightful wit. The Second Sonata dates from 1965 and begins with a quasi-Handelian slow introduction, marked by its dignity and gravitas. In contrast, the scurrying Allegro molto (so superbly, and lightly, delivered here by Terroni) celebrates counterpoint, predominantly two-part. The highlight of the sonata is the profound central Andante sostenuto, in which Cooke explores a twilit realm. The finale’s robust constitution balances these explorations.

The Three Songs of Innocence (1957) is scored for soprano, clarinet, and piano. The Blake poems are set with clear and fluent assurance by Cooke. What a pity the texts for this (and for Nocturnes ) are not replicated in the booklet. The clarinet’s piping adds a real layer to the settings. Lorraine Schulman is a superb clarinetist. Perhaps Melanie Lodge’s voice is a little too lacking in body, but it is fresh and she brings real atmosphere to the beautiful second song, “The Shepherd.” The Nocturnes were composed in the previous year, 1956. Here, horn joins the voice and piano in settings of Shelley (“The Moon”), First World War poet Isaac Rosenberg (“Returning, We Hear the Larks”), D. H. Lawrence (“River Roses”), Tennyson (“The Owl”), and John Davidson (“The Boat Song”). All poems take night as their starting point. The pulsating accompaniment for “The Moon” is most evocative, a true contrast to the march that is “Returning, We Hear the Larks.” The use of hand stopping is most effective here. Cooke’s imagination throughout is most impressive, not least in the haunting setting of “River Roses” or in the shadowy scherzo that is “The Owl” (the horn imitates the owl’s hoots as voice and piano agilely deliver their patter). Jaggard’s delivery of the languid opening theme of the final movement, “The Boat Song,” is simply beautiful. (We really should hear more of Jonathan Jaggard. Good horn soloists are in short supply.)

Amazingly, the Rondo is a world premiere recording (along with the Songs of Innocence and the Nocturnes ). It is a tremendous piece, short (3:03) and breezy, its angular, fourth-based theme just taking the edge off any perceived brightness. Jaggard (great nephew of Sir John Barbirolli, apparently) plays extremely well, clearly highlighting the references to the instrument’s hunting fanfare origins.

Finally, the Flute Quartet of 1936, a fairly substantial work of some 18 minutes’ duration and the earliest work we hear here. MacDonald points out, correctly, that the opening Lento is more reminiscent of perfumed French Impressionism than British pastoralism or, for that matter, Cooke’s mentor, Hindemith. Patrick Williams is a fine flutist, his demeanor seemingly perfect for Cooke’s warm, genial mode of expression. The middle movement, Lento, is a set of imaginatively conceived variations that includes a memorable flute cadenza, winningly delivered here. The finale explores the flute’s inherently deft nature. The coda is wonderfully witty.

The recording quality is of the very first rank (the producer is Michael Ponder and the venue is Potton Hall, Suffolk, for everything except the Flute Quartet, which was recorded at St. Silas Church, London).

Raphael Terroni may be heard as accompanist on another Cooke disc, this time of three string sonatas (viola and piano, Violin Sonata No. 2, and Cello Sonata No. 2) on British Music Society BMS432CD. A useful Web resource for Arnold Cooke, including work list and discography, is hosted by the U.K. Web site Musicweb International: musicweb-international.com/cooke/index.htm.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Piano Sonata No. 1 by Arnold Cooke
Performer:  Raphael Terroni (Piano)
Written: 1938 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 18 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Three Songs of Innocence, for soprano, clarinet & piano by Arnold Cooke
Performer:  Raphael Terroni (Piano), Melanie Lodge (), Lorraine Schulman (Clarinet)
Written: 1957 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 6 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Rondo for horn & piano in B flat major by Arnold Cooke
Performer:  Raphael Terroni (Piano), Jonathan Jaggard (Horn)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1950 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 3 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Flute Quartet by Arnold Cooke
Performer:  Patrick Williams (Flute), Warren Zielinski (Violin), Morgan Goff (Viola),
Justin Pearson (Cello)
Written: 1936 
Date of Recording: 07/21/2008 
Venue:  St Silas Church, London 
Length: 18 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Nocturnes, a cycle of five songs for voice, horn & piano by Arnold Cooke
Performer:  Melanie Lodge (), Jonathan Jaggard (Horn), Raphael Terroni (Piano)
Written: 1956 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 10 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Piano Sonata No. 2 by Arnold Cooke
Performer:  Jonathan Jaggard (Horn), Raphael Terroni (Piano), Melanie Lodge ()
Written: 1965 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 17 Minutes 3 Secs. 

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