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Arnold Cooke: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5



‘My music is mainly based on traditional procedures and principles … I do not have any particular theories of composition, just a natural inclination for it’. These clear and precise observations by Arnold Cooke (1906-2005) are indicative of a practical approach to his craft. During a long creative life he abstained discreetly from a battery of stylistic trends, including serialism, aleatoricism, minimalism, musique concrète and electronic music, and established single-mindedly a substantial canon notable for its unfaltering cogency and integrity. In his review of the BBC broadcast of Cooke’s Symphony no.4, Meirion Bowen commented that, ‘The format is entirely that of the traditional four-movement symphony – crystal clear to follow, perfectly proportioned in the best academic traditions’. The score has a certain Brucknerian grandeur and it is a tribute to the closely-argued intensity of Cooke’s writing that he achieves this feeling of thematic opulence in a work which is roughly half the time span of an average Bruckner symphony.

Arnold Cooke: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5


“I enjoyed both these symphonies. There is much of interest in these two works: I was impressed and often moved by what I heard here. The production of this CD is outstanding: after more than 45 years of listening to their records, I expect no less from Lyrita. The re-mastering of these two radio broadcasts seems to me to be near-perfect. Paul Conway gives a detailed analysis of both symphonies which deserve study before listening.” John France,

The recordings derive from Richard Itter, Lyrita’s founder, who spent many years recording on excellent equipment BBC broadcasts including those of musical rarities like these two symphonies of Arnold Cooke.  The tape has survived well, the recordings are in good mono and join Lyrita’s excellent stereo studio recordings of the First and Third Symphonies with the London Philharmonic under Nicholas Braithwaite in providing a good cross-section of Cooke’s orchestral music.  The Second Symphony has not been recorded and Cooke’s last, the Sixth, has yet to receive a first performance.  This release may well provoke increased interest in Arnold Cooke’s music. I do hope so. Peter Joelson, Audiofile Audition