Carson COOMAN (b.1982)
Monody, op.949 (2012) [4:52]
Canzona II, op.943 (2011) [3:00]
Trio in Memoriam Dirk Flentrop, op.552 (2004) [3:21]
Hornpipe, op.934 (2011) [2:25]
Partita on 'St Elizabeth', op.424 (2005) [7:00]
Rondeau, op.947 (2011) [2:32]
Prelude on 'Martyrdom', op.639 (2005) [2:12]
Prelude on 'O Sacred Head', op.226 (2000) [2:08]
All My Heart This Night Rejoices, op.587 (2004) [2:28]
Lamento e Giga, op.948 (2012) [5:29]
Vision: O the Lamb, op.274 (2001) [3:36]
Prelude and Fugue, op.913 (2011) [5:13]
Monody, op.949 (2012) [4:57]
Erik Simmons (organ)
rec. Basilika Mariä-Himmelfahrt, Krzeszów (Grüssau), Poland.
No dates given. DDD
ERIK SIMMONS and CARSON COOMAN no number [49:06]
When is a CD running time of 49 minutes not only not a cause for complaint,
but in fact constituent of a fantastic bargain? The answer is: when the music
is not just good, but free! In an act of great generosity American composer
Carson Cooman and organist Erik Simmons, publishers of these recordings themselves,
defy all known economic models in offering all the music here as free downloads
- including lossless - from the disc's own website.
For those preferring a physical product, the CD can be had from the same site
for only $2 plus postage ($4.30 at the time of writing for the US/UK). Either
way, no music-lover should hesitate.
Carson Cooman is one of the most prolific composers of all time. He writes so
fast that every time a figure for his total number of works appears in print,
or even on the internet, it is immediately out of date. This new release, hot
off the press, premieres his opp. 948 and 949, and a casual perusal of the track-list
reveals that in 2005 he had 'only' reached op.424! That is well over 500 published
works in seven years, astonishing in itself, yet Cooman has actually been publishing
a new work at the incredible rate of more than one a week for sixteen
years. As evidenced in this programme, many are only three or four minutes in
length, but scattered throughout his corpus there are a great number over ten
minutes, and such prolific production combined with enormous breadth - he has
written for virtually every solo instrument and every combination of two or
more - amounts to a mind-boggling fertility and application.
As the website link above shows, this is Cooman's second monograph of organ
music, the first appearing on Raven Records (OAR-932) only last year. Of the
dozen pieces in Erik Simmons' recital, only the Trio op.552 has been previously
recorded (on that Raven).
Cooman himself is also a concert organist, a frequent performer of contemporary
music: according to his excellent website
more than 130 organ works have been written for him by various other composers.
Nevertheless, his own music is self-evidently written for audiences - or more
accurately, for audiences that enjoy the Germanic tradition stretching back
to Scheidemann and Buxtehude - tuneful, reflective, straightforward yet stimulating
'reformist' music. There is much variety to keep the listener's interest, with
pious pieces introspecting over long bass drones alternating with jaunty dances
or soaring soul-stirrers. Most items are kept to a congregation-pleasing three
or four minutes in length.
Cooman's pieces focus on general aesthetics rather than virtuosity, but Erik
Simmons, to whom Canzona II is dedicated, still has plenty of scope to demonstrate
confidence, agility and expression, for which he is happy to oblige on the beautiful
built in the 1730s by Michael Engler. Good sound quality further enhances his
Given that the CD itself is so cheap, no one can complain that there are no
notes beyond a line or two for each piece, explaining who the dedication is
for or commission from. Biographical information on Cooman can be found on his
website; Simmons is more elusive.
In short, this disc has to be one of the bargains of the year. Those liking
what they hear, which should be everyone, could do much worse than to order
'A Trip to the Sky', an outstanding CD of Cooman's chamber works that appeared
last year on MSR Classics - see review.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk
In short, this disc has to be one of the bargains of the year.