nicely produced CD features organ music composed during
2004 by the young English composer James Cook. We are told
little about him except that he is a one-time composition
student at Oxford University and has worked at Eton College. He is a prolific composer of choral music.
music is a little hard to describe; probably it’s an acquired
taste. It never seems in a hurry to get anywhere and in
general I missed a certain amount of direction or purpose.
Unusually for organ literature counterpoint plays no significant
role. Rather, meandering melodies with rather triadic harmonies
abound. Occasionally modal or even bi-tonal elements present
themselves. Heavily featured are non-musical inspirations,
most especially the writings of 17th century
puritans. James Cook’s notes for the CD are full and informative.
you have a taste for Cook’s music then Divine Art can go
some way to assuaging your hunger. There are two other Cook
discs in their catalogue. Each presents Cook’s sacred choral
music sung by Voces
The first is ‘Heaven's Happiness’ where the
choral director is Michael McCarthy; Rufus Frowde (organ) 25023. The second
CD is ‘The Way to Heaven’ conductor Rufus
Frowde with Iestyn Evans (organ) on 25027.
present CD was recorded in Harris Manchester College Chapel
in Oxford. The instrument began life in 1893 as a 23 stop Gray and Davison
but was substantially enlarged in 1930 by Nicholson and
later tweaked in the early 1970s when the inevitable mutations
were added to the choir. In general the organ sounds well,
despite the dry acoustic. I couldn’t help feeling though
that the music might have taken on more stature on a better
organ, and perhaps in a larger room. This implies no criticism
of Myles Hartley, a former organ scholar of St
Windsor and now a post-graduate research student at Oxford. His playing can hardly be faulted.
picking up for explorers of the organ repertoire’s more
unknown corners or for somebody interested in a recording
of an otherwise un-recorded instrument.