Carson Cooman is a young American composer, who has written a
wide range of works, using forces from solo instruments to full
orchestra. His output is prolific and much of it is published.
His language, if this disc is anything to go by, is essentially
tonal and simple; it is inoffensive to the average listener and
I have no doubt that it would appeal to the Classic FM audience.
This disc serves as a good introduction to his works, including
a range of instrumental combinations, from clarinet and piano
to string quartet.
The disc has
a feel of being produced on a low budget; the sleeve insert
is one double sided page, and the text is laid out so that
it is almost cropped at the edges of the pages. One cannot,
however, criticise a low budget in the current economic climate,
and in the interests of artistic pursuits, I would much rather
see a low budget CD available than no CD at all. The recording
quality is fine – the performances are all live, and were
it not for some moments of intonational awkwardness, I would
probably never have noticed.
Summer Song is a short piece for solo cello,
which makes use of a repeated melodic fragment. This is an
uncomplicated work which is well performed and has much appeal.
Another short work, the Fantasia on American Hymns for alto saxophone and piano, follows,
with clear American influences and a warm saxophone tone.
most substantial work on the disc is Lyric Pieces for
clarinet and piano, in six movements. The influence of Cooman’s
organ playing background can be heard in some of the textural
writing. The movements follow different moods and each have
distinct characters, although the performance as a whole failed
to capture my attention.
Canalscape: Soliloquy for String Quartet uses the quartet
as one instrument, and has a satisfying sense of completeness.
Like many of the works on this CD, the movement is slow and
there is much room for expression. The harmonic language is
more interesting in the Tombeau-Aria in memory of Meyer
Kupferman which contains an enjoyable element of dissonance,
adding tension and deeper emotional strength to the work.
This is a short work, little over 3 minutes in duration, but
for me, this is very much the star of the show, and something
I would like to hear again.
closing work is a flute quartet, entitled Dawn Rituals.
The most recent work on the disc, composed in 2005, this
two movement work makes good use of the sonorities created
by four flutes and the players balance each other well. The
second movement, Sun Ride, has a sense of energy and
fun and a strong sense of rhythmic drive. This is an excellent
work, which showcases Cooman’s abilities as a composer. Once
again, the influence of organ writing is sensed, and the movement
has the general feel of a virtuosic Toccata.
disc has served as an interesting introduction to this composer’s
works, and I’m looking forward to exploring more in the future.