Despite having a long, prolific life spanning nearly a century, the works of Arnold Cooke are little-known and regrettably uncelebrated outside of his native England. Cooke composed five symphonies, an opera, music for the ballet, and a wealth of chamber music. A student of Paul Hindemith, Cooke's proclivity for writing sonatas for solo instrument and piano is not surprising. Though Hindemith's influence is easily detectable, so, too, is Cooke's own sense of individuality. This British Music Society album offers listeners the first-ever recordings of Cooke's Viola Sonata (1937), Second Violin Sonata (1951), and Second Cello Sonata (1980) performed by Morgan Goff, Susanne Stanzeleit, and Raphael Wallfisch, respectively; each is joined by pianist Raphael Terroni. As listeners chronologically progress through the three sonatas, they will notice Hindemith's voice growing ever softer and Cooke's somewhat more melodious voice shining through. Each of the string soloists puts forth a wonderfully convincing performance filled with rhythmic precision, fluid dialogue between strings and piano, exceptional control of pacing and dynamics, and a clear commitment to Cooke's scores. The string soloists also deserve respect for their technical precision and meticulous intonation, and their ability to use their technical skills to highlight the abundant musical gestures in the music. Listeners unfamiliar with Arnold Cooke, and particularly those with an interest in quality chamber music, will certainly appreciate this addition to their collections.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
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