At the very end of last year I reviewed a disk of Cooman’s vocal
and piano music (Albany TROY1053) which failed to interest me,
finding the music lacking in real personality and having little
to make me want to listen to it again.
disk is quite different. It seems incredible that a man not
yet thirty years old can have reached opus 763, and probably
more by the time of writing. From such a large catalogue there
must be some pieces which fail to “deliver the goods” but
here we have seven recent pieces, all of which have much to
say for themselves.
Fanfare for DGF makes a brilliant start – it is ebullient
and sparkling, everything you want from a fanfare, and at
37 seconds it is perfect. The Trombone Concerto, whilst
somewhat dour, I would have liked a bit of contrast within
the piece, is a fascinating piece, not virtuosic in the traditional
Concerto sense but certainly a difficult prospect for the
soloist. It’s full of the sound of bells and there’s quite
a bit of drama. In What Time Remains is an easy–going
piece with no surprises but a rich vein of lyricism. It’s
full of sumptuous chordal writing, and there’s none of the
usual fanfare and fast-running music one usually expects from
Oboe Quintet is written in a more modern language,
starting with what sounds like free string pizzicato sections
interspersed with oboe “arias”. As the music progresses it
becomes rather aggressive and there is much unison writing.
This is quite a tough work, but it is very exciting and is
a worthy addition to the all too small repertoire for oboe
quartet. This should be played often. The Piano Concerto,
scored for an orchestra without strings, is an odd piece.
Here there is no real lyrical interest, instead the work is
built on the mixing of various different sonorities - all
very satisfying - until the finale when a march-like idea
is given prominence. This is the weakest part for it seems
less finished than the rest of the work and is rather banal.
All Knowing is a disturbing piece
of night music, dark and brooding but very passionate. It
is scored, for chamber orchestra, in a most transparent and
luminous way. This is a real winner, and together with the
Oboe Quartet, worth the price of the disk alone. The
disk ends with the Brass Quintet, a short work, which
inhabits some of the world of Beyond All Knowing but
with more obvious brass writing, fanfare–like motifs, sustained
chordal passages and brief lyricism.
I find that these pieces fail to display a really original
or strong musical personality – there is too little consistency
in the language – they are enjoyable and well worth seeking
out. I wonder, though, if with his huge catalogue behind him
Mr Cooman might now slow down his production and think very
seriously about what he has to say and how he is to say it.
These works show that there is a questing and interesting
musical mind at work but it is, at present, insufficiently
focused for Cooman to be truly individual. However, there
is time for him to develop a really original voice.
recorded sound is very good, well focused and bright and the
performances are, I am sure, of the very highest quality.