Records International

As a noted composer of sacred choral music, Cook is, not unexpectedly, drawn to religious themes and expression in his substantial body of organ music. Both symphonies are substantial, four-movement works lasting almost an hour each. The Lacrimosa is not so much deeply tragic as somber and melancholy; the more extrovert Melodia is somewhat restrained and noble rather than vigorously dramatic. Throughout, there is a sense of ‘English reserve’, a kind of musical respectability; the passions and agonies beneath are never brutally exposed, but endured and overcome with dignity.

Despite a few moments of harmonic uncertainty, from which the composer swiftly retreats, the music is all resolutely and unambiguously tonal, and in the larger movements especially, tightly formally structured according to traditional contrapuntal techniques – there are several large fugal structures, for instance. Clearly and idiomatically written for the organ, the music harks back to an earlier age of church music; one feels that the composer might be an Edwardian cathedral organist born out of his time, caring little for the barbaric modernism that would soon invade the Sceptered Isle from the continent. This is not to deny the real beauty and emotional sincerity of these finely crafted reveries, meditations and celebrations.