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Arnold Cooke: Symphony No 6


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Author Topic: Arnold Cooke: Symphony No 6  (Read 1136 times)
BrianA
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« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2016, 01:48:27 am »

The performance is still available at the link given at the beginning of this discussion.  Unfortunately snaging a recording is beyond both my technical competence as well as the capabilities of my software.   Grin  Otherwise it would have been done by now.
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2016, 09:41:45 am »

How to download items from Radio Three:

1) To get the best quality from the BBC you should either 1) be in the uk, or 2) use a vpn with a British ip address.

2) Find the programme identification number (PID). For this programme it is b07tz9fk. It can be seen in the address line of this picture.



3) At a command prompt, simply type:

get_iplayer --pid=xxxxxxxx

where xxxxxxxx is the PID from step 2 (b07tz9fk).

Then wait for about half an hour while the programme downloads. This will give you the entire programme: Bax overture, Elgar Cello Concerto, Cooke symphony 6, Elgar serenade, Vaughan Williams Lark, and Matthews symphony 8. It should give you a file of 345,302,353 bytes, with the best quality bit rate of 320 kbs.

4) There are various ways to snip out just the part or parts you want. I do it as follows, using ffmpeg, but there may be better ways:

- rename the file to something shorter and more convenient: WholeConcert.m4a
- Play the whole programme with VLC Media Player and note the start and end times of the section you are interested in
- Subtract the start time from the end time to get the length of that section
- then type:

I:\ffmpeg -ss 00:44:44 -i WholeConcert.m4a -c:a copy -t 00:34:51 -y CookeS6.m4a

This says: "Copy part of the audio file WholeConcert.m4a, starting at 00:44:44, and stop copying after the time-length of the output file CookeS6.m4a has reached 00:34:51."

I have uploaded the Cooke Symphony here:
https://ulozto.net/!Er1CDH9ye/cookes6-m4a
and posted it in our British section.

Thanks to the members who drew attention to this item.
If any one would like me to upload the whole concert, please let me know.

References:
https://sourceforge.net/projects/get-iplayer/
https://ffmpeg.org/

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Dundonnell
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« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2016, 01:28:54 pm »

Thank you very much indeed for these detailed instructions......but thank you even more for taking the trouble to actually do the work for us by making the symphony available to download (which I have just done successfully Smiley).

Extraordinary story-I had not known that the manuscript of the symphony had actually been lost Roll Eyes I thought that the work had been published....but obviously not.

What strikes me about this very fine British composer is the contrast with Havergal Brian. In the 1930s when Brian was the Assistant Editor of "Musical Opinion" he wrote that Cooke was one of the most promising of British composers. Now....I would not claim that Cooke was as individual a composer as Brian. He was not. But his music is well-wrought, fastidious, eminently attractive and certainly does not deserve neglect.

Brian died at the age of 96 in 1972, Cooke died in 2005 aged 98. But since his death in particular Brian's music has enjoyed a quite amazing revival in fortune due to the dedicated work of a number of individuals and latterly to the HB Society. Cooke is largely forgotten.

All credit to the (much-maligned) BBC and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for agreeing to perform the Symphony No.6. I very much doubt if it will lead to a Brian-type resurgence of interest in Cooke's music but those of us who admire its craftsmanship can at least  hear much of it and can appreciate his contribution to British music.
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Greg K
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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2016, 06:06:44 pm »

There's never in Cooke's music anything like those inspired and captivating "visionary tangents" one so frequently comes upon in a Brian Symphony. Workmanlike and always pretty reliably dull is how I myself would characterize it.  Could Symphony No.6 possibly be any different?
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ahinton
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« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2016, 09:31:51 pm »

There's never in Cooke's music anything like those inspired and captivating "visionary tangents" one so frequently comes upon in a Brian Symphony. Workmanlike and always pretty reliably dull is how I myself would describe it.  Could Symphony No.6 possibly be any different?
I fear not. All too much earnest and well-meaning sub-Hindemith, I sorry to have to say - and without Hindemith's sometimes engaging qualities...
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tapiola
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« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2016, 01:01:37 pm »

My most sincere gratitude to everyone who help realize this!  A fine symphony I though I'd never hear.
Clive, especially you.  Thank you!
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2016, 02:12:50 am »

There's never in Cooke's music anything like those inspired and captivating "visionary tangents" one so frequently comes upon in a Brian Symphony. Workmanlike and always pretty reliably dull is how I myself would describe it.  Could Symphony No.6 possibly be any different?
I fear not. All too much earnest and well-meaning sub-Hindemith, I fear - and without Hindemith's sometimes engaging qualities...

The issue of Cooke as a pupil of Hindemith and thereby his music ending up as "sub-Hindemith" has much exercised commentators on Cooke.

The late Malcolm MacDonald in his second volume on the symphonies of Havergal Brian wrote a savage paragraph (pages 136-137) in which he contrasted most of Brian's music with "that peculiarly English genre, the 'Cheltenham Symphony', which he described as "formally correct, harmonically fairly innocuous.......with little to offer more exploratory minds". He cited the symphonies of William Alwyn, Lennox Berkeley, Peter Racine Fricker, Alan Rawsthorne, Edmund Rubbra as examples of what he had in mind.

I know from lengthy discussions I had with Malcolm over the years that he deeply regretted writing that paragraph and would have removed it from any second edition of the volume. He told me that it had been both ill-judged and glib, particularly in lumping together composers whose musical styles were different.

Although he did not include Arnold Cooke in that paragraph he might well have done. In fact however he addressed the Hindemith/Cooke relationship in his notes accompanying the Lyrita cd of the Cooke Symphony No.1, Concerto in D for string orchestra and the Ballet Suite "Jabez and the Devil". It is worth quoting what Malcolm wrote:

"If such a career (Cooke's) suggests a degree of academicism and cosmopolitanism, those terms have to be understood in fairly specialised ways. They meet in the fact of Cooke being a pupil of Hindemith: in effect, the German master's only prominent English pupil. This is perhaps the best-known fact about Cooke, and one that has sometimes led to his music being regarded as mere epigonism. Certainly, Hindemith's own, highly recognisable, style left its imprint on Cooke, whose idiom is rich in harmonic and melodic fourths, ready fugal writing and even features of orchestral spacing and chording that one finds abundantly in Hindemith's mature music from 'Mathis der Maler' on-that is to say, the music which he composed significantly after Cooke had ceased to study with him. But what Cooke reallly imbibed was a broad framework of technique and a sense of direction: a view of music as a living polyphonic entity and a feeling for individual instruments that goes back to the practice of J.S. Bach. Ultimately, therefore, Cooke is a representative of the continuing flowering of the European Baroque traditions; but to this he brings a specifically English lyricism and lucidity that gives his music a character all his own. (Brian (ie Havergal Brian) saw this in 1936, writing that Cooke "appears to think and breathe contrapuntally....And he has tradition in his bones: his working principles are nearer to the Elizabethans and Bach than to Wagner and Strauss"). Cooke's idiom remained comparatively stable; his output may seem to have little relevance to the strivings of the avant-garde of his day, and neither it did-rather, Cooke was devoted to a view of music that is essentially timeless, and has served civilisation well for several centuries. From this point of view he occupies a position in British music not dissimilar to his near-contemporary, the late Edmund Rubbra: a composer whose art is at once un-sensational yet profound."

I make no extravagent claims for the music of Arnold Cooke but nor am I prepared to simply dismiss it as "sub-Hindemith". It will certainly not appeal to everyone. But both Havergal Brian and Malcolm MacDonald recognised something about Cooke's music which does appeal to at least some of his listeners. It is most certainly not "sensational", there is no surface glitter or any (overblown) drama about the music. But I find that it repays listening, that its clarity is appealing in a similar yet different way to that of the music of Edmund Rubbra. It will never be "popular" and I fully accept that others will find little to interest them in it. Yet I do return to Cooke's music with pleasure and I respect the integrity behind it. "Dull" maybe to some....but not to this listener Smiley

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Greg K
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« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2016, 07:48:25 pm »

"Dull" maybe to some....but not to this listener Smiley
[/quote]

OK then what about just "earthbound" (in which case how confounding to see Cooke's music spoken of in the same breath with Rubbra's, suffused as that is with the "heights and depths" so absent from Cooke)?

That way we can acknowledge Cooke's striking and distinctive qualities perhaps, but still recognize how lacking in "significances" the music is.
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ahinton
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« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2016, 10:56:42 pm »

There's never in Cooke's music anything like those inspired and captivating "visionary tangents" one so frequently comes upon in a Brian Symphony. Workmanlike and always pretty reliably dull is how I myself would describe it.  Could Symphony No.6 possibly be any different?
I fear not. All too much earnest and well-meaning sub-Hindemith, I fear - and without Hindemith's sometimes engaging qualities...

The issue of Cooke as a pupil of Hindemith and thereby his music ending up as "sub-Hindemith" has much exercised commentators on Cooke.

The late Malcolm MacDonald in his second volume on the symphonies of Havergal Brian wrote a savage paragraph (pages 136-137) in which he contrasted most of Brian's music with "that peculiarly English genre, the 'Cheltenham Symphony', which he described as "formally correct, harmonically fairly innocuous.......with little to offer more exploratory minds". He cited the symphonies of William Alwyn, Lennox Berkeley, Peter Racine Fricker, Alan Rawsthorne, Edmund Rubbra as examples of what he had in mind.

I know from lengthy discussions I had with Malcolm over the years that he deeply regretted writing that paragraph and would have removed it from any second edition of the volume. He told me that it had been both ill-judged and glib, particularly in lumping together composers whose musical styles were different.

Although he did not include Arnold Cooke in that paragraph he might well have done. In fact however he addressed the Hindemith/Cooke relationship in his notes accompanying the Lyrita cd of the Cooke Symphony No.1, Concerto in D for string orchestra and the Ballet Suite "Jabez and the Devil". It is worth quoting what Malcolm wrote:

"If such a career (Cooke's) suggests a degree of academicism and cosmopolitanism, those terms have to be understood in fairly specialised ways. They meet in the fact of Cooke being a pupil of Hindemith: in effect, the German master's only prominent English pupil. This is perhaps the best-known fact about Cooke, and one that has sometimes led to his music being regarded as mere epigonism. Certainly, Hindemith's own, highly recognisable, style left its imprint on Cooke, whose idiom is rich in harmonic and melodic fourths, ready fugal writing and even features of orchestral spacing and chording that one finds abundantly in Hindemith's mature music from 'Mathis der Maler' on-that is to say, the music which he composed significantly after Cooke had ceased to study with him. But what Cooke reallly imbibed was a broad framework of technique and a sense of direction: a view of music as a living polyphonic entity and a feeling for individual instruments that goes back to the practice of J.S. Bach. Ultimately, therefore, Cooke is a representative of the continuing flowering of the European Baroque traditions; but to this he brings a specifically English lyricism and lucidity that gives his music a character all his own. (Brian (ie Havergal Brian) saw this in 1936, writing that Cooke "appears to think and breathe contrapuntally....And he has tradition in his bones: his working principles are nearer to the Elizabethans and Bach than to Wagner and Strauss"). Cooke's idiom remained comparatively stable; his output may seem to have little relevance to the strivings of the avant-garde of his day, and neither it did-rather, Cooke was devoted to a view of music that is essentially timeless, and has served civilisation well for several centuries. From this point of view he occupies a position in British music not dissimilar to his near-contemporary, the late Edmund Rubbra: a composer whose art is at once un-sensational yet profound."

I make no extravagent claims for the music of Arnold Cooke but nor am I prepared to simply dismiss it as "sub-Hindemith". It will certainly not appeal to everyone. But both Havergal Brian and Malcolm MacDonald recognised something about Cooke's music which does appeal to at least some of his listeners. It is most certainly not "sensational", there is no surface glitter or any (overblown) drama about the music. But I find that it repays listening, that its clarity is appealing in a similar yet different way to that of the music of Edmund Rubbra. It will never be "popular" and I fully accept that others will find little to interest them in it. Yet I do return to Cooke's music with pleasure and I respect the integrity behind it. "Dull" maybe to some....but not to this listener Smiley
Well, thank you very much for your well considered view here. The late and much lamented Malcolm MacDonald was an authority to be reckoned with but also, as you illustrate here, one who was big enough to recant on something that he wrote. Cooke, to me, has bags of technique - this is not an issue as far as I am concerned - but Rubbra seems to me, for all his apparent surface "blandness", to possess a passion that either eluded or was not of particular importance to his younger contemporary Cooke, his first symphony (Rubbra's that is) starting out as though he was almost preparing himself for assumption of rather surprising mantle of an English pre-Pettersson. Rubbra is a composer not to be underestimated and never seemed especially to be quitge as obviously hidebound to another composer as much as Cooke seems to me to have been to Hindemith. Cooke certainly absorbed much of Hindemith's inveterate and natural craftsmanship, but I'm not sufficiently certain that this or anything else helped him to plumb many depths in his always competent music.
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« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2016, 03:01:59 am »

I am grateful to both Greg and Alistair for their responses.

There is no doubt that musical analysis, criticism and debate will inevitably and properly involved discussion of the influences derived by one composer from his predecessors. I accept that without reservation. I am often reluctant to involve myself in comparisons of the music produced by one composer and that of another-not because it is in any way improper but because as someone without any musical training or indeed "technical" knowledge of musical construction I am only too well aware that my responses to the music I hear are entirely subjective and are based virtually exclusively on my own personal response to the particular sound-world of the music I hear. Thus I can respect and, to a degree, appreciate the qualities of a composer's music and can recognise that the music has (as Greg puts it) a "significance" without it making much of a direct connection to me as an individual.

Put quite simply....that is why I try to stay away from commenting on music which "means little to me" or which I find in some way lacking "significance". It is also why I tend to avoid comparing one composer's music with another. That could result in me saying nothing at all and remaining mute. Instead however I choose to share my enthusiasms for those composers whose music does appeal to me. It would be of no great interest to others for me to say that I regard Mahler as a grossly over-rated composer because I can recognise that he was a great composer but one whose appeal to me is limited to his first two symphonies. The days when the afore-mentioned Malcolm MacDonald and I used to discuss the respective merits of Sibelius and Carl Nielsen or William Walton and Benjamin Britten, set in contrast or even opposition to each other have long passed.

I can recognise the comparisons and contrast between the music of Edmund Rubbra and that of Arnold Cooke. If I am pushed to say so (and I suppose in this context I am Grin) then....yes, I do happen to think that Rubbra's music does have a level of 'profoundity' far beyond that of Arnold Cooke. There is a spirituality about Rubbra, a depth of emotional expression which makes his music far more moving for me than that of Arnold Cooke. I don't for one minute however think that Cooke was aiming for such a depth. Perhaps, in that sense, Malcolm was being somewhat over-generous in his use of the word "profoundity" in relation to Cooke. Perhaps Cooke's music is to be admired-if indeed it is-more for its innate craftsmanship than for any other quality.

But that very last point brings me full circle. I did say in my earlier post that I made no extravagent claims for the music of Arnold Cooke. There are a number (actually I am fortuinate enough that it is a very large number Grin) of composers whose music does appeal to me. But the appeal of different composers differs both in degree and in the nature of that appeal. If I was to attempt to generalise (and this is really of little interest to others and would earn me the contempt and derision of some) then I suppose I would admit to a preference for the serious as opposed to the light-hearted, to the large-scale, to a Nordic grimness, to the monumentality of Bruckner or Shostakovich, and the romantic lyricism of many mid-20th century British and American composers.

Cooke's music fits into that, not entirely comfortably, but it does. I cannot justify that.....but then nor should I have to. I can understand those who have a different opinion and a different perspective. They are just as entitled to their view as am I. This does not invalidate discussion or debate....far from it! We can (and no doubt will) continue to argue the case for the music of particular composers-as we should Smiley
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Greg K
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« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2016, 05:28:52 pm »

A dissimulation (about Cooke) couched within a manifesto (about "music appreciation"), Colin.

As I read it, you seem to be saying "as long as I don't compare Cooke's music with the music of other composers I appreciate then I can appreciate it, - and I'm not going to compare, but here's a comparison".

What a twist and turn. Kiss
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #26 on: September 17, 2016, 10:24:39 pm »

A dissimulation (about Cooke) couched within a manifesto (about "music appreciation"), Colin.

As I read it, you seem to be saying "as long as I don't compare Cooke's music with the music of other composers I appreciate then I can appreciate it, - and I'm not going to compare, but here's a comparison".

What a twist and turn. Kiss

Your interpretation of what I was trying to say is a misreading of my intentions and the meaning and purpose of my post. Manifestly I have failed totally to convey properly what I meant.

'Dissimulation' is deceit, misrepresentation and dishonesty. To level that accusation against me is without doubt the most hurtful and damaging charge I can imagine.

I fear that I can and will say no more Sad

If that is indeed what you are accusing me of then I have not merely manifestly failed to convey my meaning properly but laid myself open to
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Greg K
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« Reply #27 on: September 17, 2016, 11:55:18 pm »

Perhaps I should rather have said "an ambiguity contained within an affirmation" then, or some such, - disagree as you might with that also.

For your typical earnestness "dissimulation" reads like an accusation, whereas in my more playfully rhetorical posture (though not unserious in intent) it's simply a cipher - or part of a dialectic - used to provoke further consideration.

I was merely meaning to contrast the shiftiness of "dissimulation" with the forthrightness of "manifesto" as extremities of conviction and expression, without literally believing you were indulging in either.

Intemperate of me, I suppose, but no bad will there.

In any case, I've expended many more hours of effort than I maybe should have over the years with the available recordings of Cooke's music, laboring to discover even a small kernel of genuine passion or vision (or indeed "significance") I could resonate with as reward for my efforts, - but to no avail.  It all strikes my sensibility as largely sterile, and thus to read even a modest defense of his worthiness and attractions evokes a certain puzzlement.
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calyptorhynchus
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« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2016, 02:57:27 am »

Coming late to this discussion, I was overseas otherwise I would have snagged the Cooke 6 myself. However, thanks to Elroel for doing it for us.

I am not an uncritical admirer of all British composers who have written symphonies, there are many composers discussed on these pages whose music I find rather dull. However Cooke's music always delights me and his last symphony is corker. Whilst recognising that his music isn't as deep as others I find that there is as much delight in a well-crafted symphony such as one of Cooke's as in other, deeper works. I'd say that in this his music is Haydenesque.

Does anyone know when it was written?

[BTW the announcer for the Cooke 6 mentioned that over the next sixth months Radio 3 was going to be playing more British music, hope we are in for more treats like this].
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tapiola
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« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2016, 10:38:20 am »

1983-84.
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