Arnold Cooke belongs to a generation of composers that included Constant Lambert, Alan Rawsthorne and Michael Tippett and was a contemporary of Benjamin Frankel and Elisabeth Luytens, but while the music of this group makes the concert hall with a healthy regularity, Cooke's output has only made the breakthrough it deserves in recent times.
Born in 1905, he lived to the ripe old age of nearly 99 during which he wrote in practically every genre. His six symphonies are perhaps his greatest achievement, but his chamber, operatic and instrumental pieces are extremely well crafted and despite his leanings towards the melodic, his music is consistently powerful and dramatic, at times even turbulent.
The three works on this recording span almost 50 years from the pre-war years to 1980 and all are première recordings (in their day). Although there is some influence of Hindemith, these chamber works are strongly individual creations and each sonata carries Cooke's innate talent for a lyrically good tune which seems to remain consistently in one's memory.
Performances are polished and wholly committed with each soloist betraying a genuine love for the music which cries out to be heard more often. Superb advocacy for an English composer of true stature whose talents await recognition.
Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech