CD review: Love Song

Philip Cobb
International Staff Band of the Salvation Army
Conductor: Bandmaster Dr Stephen Cobb
SPS Recordings: SPS 437 CD

There really is beauty in simplicity.  Philip Cobb’s performances on this CD prove that without doubt.

To take a melodic line and retain the original authenticity of respect is a rare gift in any soloist. To enhance it further without losing inherent meaning, rarer still. 

This is what we hear on these 15 outstanding renditions of works composed and arranged by Salvationist musicians; sublime musicianship of understanding and appreciation.

Classic cornet voice

They are embossed by Cobb’s glorious, classic cornet voice; a rich, passionate timbre that shimmers both in delicacy and bravura. The melodic lines are intimately shaped and tenderly contoured without the merest hint of guile, the dynamic range complete, the control absolute. 

And whilst the spiritual dimension is for the individual to find, it is difficult not to be moved by the sincerity of the playing from soloist and ensemble alike – the latter on fine form and directed with subtle inference by Dr Stephen Cobb in a persuasive acoustic. 

They are embossed by Cobb’s glorious, classic cornet voice; a rich, passionate timbre that shimmers both in delicacy and bravura.

The soloist retains the spotlight throughout, but the connection is a sympathetic bond of interweaved balances and responses.  

The music has a broad base of provenance; from the opening ‘I’d rather have Jesus’  inspired by a 1922 poem by Rhea Miller, to ‘A lyric of hope’  by Andrew Blyth (who contributes the excellent sleeve notes) and the title track, ‘Love Song’  by Kenneth Downie, both specially written for the soloist. 

Hugely satisfying

Mozart’s haunting ‘Laudate Dominum’  sits comfortably with an extended arrangement by Paul Sharman of ‘The sweetest name’,  which itself has a musical lineage drawn back to Philip’s grandfather, Roland Cobb.  Another is the flowing ‘All the ways God has shown’  which was a favourite song of Philip’s uncle.

Joy Webb’s questioning ‘As I pray’,  and the more modern certainties of ‘With all my heart’  and Peter Graham’s setting of ‘The candle of the Lord’  also retain a tensile link.  Elsewhere, ‘In the love of Jesus’  has a splendid sense of Salvationist commitment, as do both the contrasting Victorian and modern inflections of ‘I need thee’ and ‘Precious Jesus’.   

The Scottish essence of ‘Ochills’  and the simple choral meekness of ‘Prayer of childhood’  have an engaging naivety that adds to their musical strength, whilst ‘The Wonder of his grace’  closes a hugely satisfying release with a glorious affirmation of the beauty of simple melody.

Iwan Fox

To purchase: 

Play list:

1. I’d rather have Jesus (Shea arr. William Himes)

2. A lyric of hope (Andrew Blyth)

3. As I pray (Joy Webb arr. Ivor Bosanko)

4. With all my heart (Howard Davies)

5. The candle of the Lord (Joy Webb arr. Peter Graham)

6. All the ways God has shown (Howard Davies)

7. Love Song (Kenneth Downie)

8. Precious Jesus (Clarke arr. Robert Redhead)

9. I need thee (Alastair Taylor arr. Kenyon)

10. Laudate Dominum (Mozart trans. Kevin Norbury)

11. The sweetest name (Paul Sharman)

12. In the love of Jesus (Hammond arr. Steadman-Allen)

13. Ochills (Ernest Rance)

14. Prayer of childhood (Leslie Condon)

15. The wonder of his grace (Howard Davies arr. Ivor Bosanko)

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