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Songs from the Heart

Philip Cobb
The International Staff Band
Conductor: Dr Stephen Cobb
SP&S: SPS 305 CD
Total playing time: 65.15 mins

CD cover - Songs from the Heart

Every now and then a player emerges whose talent sets him apart: Philip Cobb is such a player. 

His natural gift of innate musicality, linked to a stunning technique shines through all that he performs.

Appointed Joint Principal Trumpet with the London Symphony Orchestra and a founder member of the renowned ensemble Superbrass, it is hard to believe that he is still only in his mid 20s. All this and he has maintained his playing commitment to the Salvation Army at Hendon Corps.

It is therefore quite fitting that the accompaniment for this, his second solo recording, should be provided by the International Staff Band conducted by his father, Stephen. Their excellent accompaniment bursts with tender pride.

Prowess and lyricism

Former ISB colleague Paul Sharman has had a hand in three of the tracks, including the opening ‘Flourish’, written as a Salvation Army counterpart to the trumpet solo, ‘Virtuosity’.  

Based around ‘Hand Me Down My Silver Trumpet’ and ‘When the Trumpet of the Lord Shall Sound’, it is a fine vehicle for the soloist’s tasteful display of technical prowess and engaging musicality.

In a lighter vein comes ‘Variations on Wondrous Day’, featuring the soloist on trumpet, flugel horn, and then with sparkling vibrancy, piccolo trumpet.  

The original solo was written for Philip’s grandfather Roland, and has been widely performed by Philip himself. This variant is quite delightful.

In contrast, Eric Whiteacre’s ‘The Seal Lullaby’, was requested after an LSO recording of the composer’s music.  Philip demonstrates a lovely, warm tonality on flugel horn in this charming, haunting melody.

Well-loved favourites

Erik Leidzen’s rhapsodic ‘Songs in the Heart’, written for Derek Smith of the New York Staff Band, features effective interplay between the soloist and band, delivered with thoughtful appreciation by both parties.  

The ISB bring out the nuances of the accompaniment without shifting the main spotlight of attention, whilst the soloist repays the compliment with generosity.

Ivor Bosanko’s setting of Joy Webb’s ‘Share My Yoke’ has gained widespread popularity, and is given a wonderfully understated interpretation devoid of unwarranted sentimentality: The musical line speaks simply and beautifully.

A similar approach is taken to ‘I Surrender All’, originally written for the flugel soloist of the Amsterdam Staff Band, but played here on cornet. 

A final Salvation Army connection is provided by Kenneth Downie’s ‘Oasis’, which sets a mood of calm reflection without recourse to any associated text.

Tributes past and present

Philip’s current employer - the London Symphony Orchestra, has built up a worldwide reputation for providing the music to a host of mainstream Hollywood films.

Andrew Pearce’s concertino ‘The Maestro’ is a touching homage to the soloist’s illustrious forbearer, Maurice Murphy – a man who can be heard for all eternity on ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Indiana Jones’ and countless more blockbusters in between.

This single movement work tests the band as well as soloist, as it depicts Maurice’s amazing life and abiding talent.  The reflective ‘Interlude’ follows as a sort of coda.

Excellent

‘The Sunshine of your Smile’ has been included in tribute to Philip’s fellow LSO trumpeter Rod Franks, who has overcome serious health but remains at the top of his profession, whilst, ‘Tico-Tico’, is a neat reminder of the great James Watson.

Philip’s interpretation is suitably flamboyant, with the band revelling in their chance to showcase their Latin expertise.

With the excellent sleeve notes provided by LSO colleague Dudley Bright, it brings to a close a recording should delight all lovers of world class musicianship as well as enhancing Philip’s remarkable status as a performer.

Peter Bale

Contents

1. Flourish
2. Oasis
3. Songs in the Heart
4. The Sunshine of Your Smile
5. Share My Yoke
6. The Maestro
7. Interlude
8. Variations on Wondrous Day
9. I Surrender All
10. The Seal Lullaby
11. Tico-Tico



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Ian Holmes

BA (hons), PGDip (RCM), ARCM, ALCM
Conductor, piano accompanist and educator