Carson COOMAN (b. 1982)
Gold into Diamonds (2007) [11:45]
New Dawn (2008) [2:18]
Chorale Preludes (1999) [4:37]
Bell Mosaic (2001) [2:36]
Seven Haiku (2005) [4:50]
Oakdale Sketchbook - a piano suite for children
Aria: Yet Brighter
Light (2002) [2:19]
Lingering, Lonely Callings
Amanda Forsythe (soprano), Jeffrey
rec. 21 - 22 May
2008, Futura Productions, Roslindale, Massachusetts. DDD
ALBANY TROY1053 [72:33]
This is all very pleasing stuff; easy to listen to, pleasantly
melodic and it certainly won't scare the horses. And therein lies
the basic problem with this music - I want the horses to be scared!
Let me explain.
All this music is written in a language we know from the new simplicity.
It's an idea which has been around for some time and many composers
have adopted and used this style in their own way - Hans Abrahamsen's
Symphony in C (1972) is a very good example of this style,
and the three CDs of Barbara Harbach's music show just how she's
used this idea and made it quite her own. And there's the crux
of this matter; they've made it their own.
Cooman's music is always very pleasant, but there's no real incident
at any point in any of these pieces - even the protest of Power
in the Blood (the third Chorale Prelude) seems contrived
and I'm left feeling as if I've just heard a newly discovered
piece by Henry Cowell. And herein lies another problem with this
music, there's far too much Aaron Copland, Ned Rorem, Henry Cowell,
Virgil Thomson, not to mention the easiness of popular music,
in here to make any of these pieces truly original and ultimately
Take, for instance, the Oakdale Sketchbook, which, if used
as a kind of teaching aid to introduce children to modern compositional
styles is fine, but as something for listening I am not so sure.
The first could be a Copland Piano Blues, the second a
Widor toccata (!), the third one of Barber's Excursions,
the fourth Bartok's Allegro barbaro, and so on. Whilst
listening I was always playing the "spot the composer" game. After
a while one stops listening and simply wonders why you're even
bothering to listen.
The songs are quite lovely, and are very singable, with good vocal
lines and accompaniments which don't go against the sung music.
But I'm constantly reminded of Copland's wonderful Emily Dickinson
settings and too many of Ned Rorem's songs.
The performances are obviously very committed - Jeffrey Grossman
is a fine pianist and I'd love to hear him in piano works by any
of the composers already named for he has a fine technique - but
Amanda Forsythe displays a slight wobble - this is not vibrato
- which becomes annoying as it's on almost every note - that's
how we know it's not a vibrato! The recorded sound is excellent.
Yes, this is most enjoyable music but unfortunately there's nothing
here which makes me want to hear it ever again.
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