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CD review: Debut 2

Joseph Cook
Manger Musikklag
Conductor: Allan Withington
Doyen Recordings: DOY CD374

dEBUT

Nearly a decade after his first solo recording, Joseph Cook has returned to the recording studio. It’s been well worth the wait.

The intervening years have seen significant developments in his life: He is now living and working in Norway with a young family in support - although he certainly retains the youthful sense of musical adventure that has always been a hallmark of his playing.

That’s shown with ‘debut’ recordings of works from Fredrick Schjelderup and Simon Oliver: ‘On the Run’ a funky bit of virtuosity that dramatically pulsates in its 6/8 groove, whilst ‘Lights on the Tyne’ is a comforting midnight stroll along what is now for him a distant urban shorefront.

Familar tropes

The major premiere comes with the Bourgeois ‘Tuba Concerto No. 2’ - a work originally commissioned in 2014 but which itself came two decades or more after the imposing first concerto was written for the great John Fletcher. 

They are very different compositions - the musical language of the latter more accessible and optimistic (helped by fine accompaniment).  The familiar latter-career Bourgeois tropes are evident (the dark, venal wit is never far away), but so too are episodes of lacerating melancholy and atonal inventiveness that make for a memorable performance.

Tina Kvamme’s take on the Nat King Cole classic ‘Nature Boy’ is a sultry ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ gem of relaxed hippy free thinking, which balances the evocative Nordic noir-surrealism of ‘The Grumpy Troll’ (and a moody so and so they are too) and the synthesized early ‘Super Mario’ computer game biblical exhilaration of ‘The Dancing King’. 

All this and ‘Variations on a Hungarian Children Song’ is an improvised piece of bovine inspired fun; like watching the antics of a hyperactive Jersey cow after eating ‘grass’ of a very different kind. 

Bovine inspired fun

All this and ‘Variations on a Hungarian Children Song’ is an improvised piece of bovine inspired fun; like watching the antics of a hyperactive Jersey cow after eating ‘grass’ of a very different kind. 

The brace of low brass ensemble works are welcome additions: ‘Suite in Blue’ a triptych of skilfully realised tuba balances and textures - at times primary and juvenile at others soaked in darker hues and chromas, whilst ‘Quiet Place’ for low brass quintet subtly mirrors the close harmony cohesiveness of the a cappela gospel original. 

Another decade or so will be far too long to wait for Cook’s third debut release. 

Iwan Fox


To purchase: http://www.worldofbrass.com/22184-debut-2.html

Play list:

1. On the Run (Fredrick Schjelderup)
2. Suite in Blue (Roger Payne)
Featuring: Joseph Cook, Vegard Aagaard-Nilsen, Sondre Johann Chesney Kvamme, Kristian Grotle
i. March Two Step 
ii. Meander 
iii. Danse Triste 
5. Nature Boy (Ahbez arr. Tina Kvamme)
6. Variations on a Hungarian Children Song (Roland Szentpali)
7. Lights on the Tyne (Simon Oliver)
8. The Grumpy Troll (Mike Forbes)
9. Quiet Place (Take 6 arr. Gail A. Robertson)
Featuring: Joseph Cook, Johannes Forsberg, Kjetil Raknerud, Margie Antrobus, Trine Villanger 
10. Tuba Concerto No. 2 (Derek Bourgeois)
i. Andante Moderato 
ii. Adagio
iii. Allegro
13. The Dancing King (Jessie Ayers)

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