Thursday, 8 May 2008

Greville Cooke: Reef’s End for Piano

Philip Sear has done a sterling service by putting a number of great, but unfortunately, obscure British Piano works on You Tube. Earlier in the year I posted a link to his moving performance of High Marley Rest by Greville Cooke. Now Philip has excelled himself with a convincing outing of the same composer’s Reef’s End.

Reef’s End is one of those pieces that is descriptive of a seascape that is always just round the next headland. When we are exploring the coastline we never quite find it or are able to pin it down. I guess the fact is that it exists only in our mind's eye. The cover of the sheet music (which I do not have a copy of to scan) pictures a rocky outcrop which is viewed against the sun setting in the west.

The work was published in 1934 and was dedicated to a certain Vivian Langrish (1894-1980) who was a contemporary of Cooke’s and a fellow pupil of Tobias Matthay.
Philip Sear points out that the score is “ marked 'andante dolente', the piece can take a slower tempo- however the score specifies a time of performance of about 3 1/2 minutes, which is what I have tried to achieve”.
As a stylistic referential marker it is appropriate to consider John Ireland’s Sarnia or perhaps The Island Spell.
Two other piano pieces by Greville Cooke that demand to be played and become part of the standard repertoire of English music are Haldon Hills and Cormorant Crag. Let us hope that either Philip or some other talented pianist takes these works up. This is music that must not be allowed to be remian dormant.

Philip Sear playing Cooke’s Reef’s End

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