Arnold Cooke: Three String Sonatas

review cooke x1 cong

This appears to be a CD that was originally released (in 2009) by the British Music Society, formed in 1979 by a group of amateur and professional music lovers to promote British music in the face of indifference.

Cooke was a good one to support: despite having a prolific working life over nearly a century, his works are little known. He composed five symphonies, an opera, music for ballet and lots of chamber music.

The album presents first recordings of Cooke’s Viola Sonata (1937), Second Violin Sonata (1951), and Second Cello Sonata (1980). The BMS CD presented the work chronologically but Naxos has changed the order (and flipped the cover photo 180 degrees for some reason).

It’s very English-sounding chamber music, somewhere between Elgar and Vaughan Williams; trying to think of something it evoked, we came up with striding the Malvern Hills on a gloomy winter’s day. That love of being slightly cold but braced by the exercise is also peculiarly British.

The playing is precise and well paced, with the strings and piano working well together. It’s enjoyable. For newcomers to classical music: this is the kind of music you image Radio Three playing late at night, slightly mournful violins coming out of the radio in a darkened room.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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