thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded
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Carson COOMAN (b.1982) Exordium: Music for Organ, Vol. 5 Exordium
Little Partita on a Polish Carol (2013) [5:21]
Sketch No.1 (2016) [1:42]
Refrains (2016) [5:01]
A Czech Liturgical Year: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Ordinary Time
Gregorian Diptych (2016) [8:46]
E.M.M. (2016) [3:26]
for St Joseph (2016) [2:30]
Deux petits Préludes
O Come: Three Hymn Fantasies (2016) [11:33]
Erik Simmons (Cavaillé-Coll organ of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de
Saint-Omer, France, 1855)
rec. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saint-Omer, France, October
Full organ specification included.
DIVINE ART DDA25154
Carson Cooman’s workload seems to be immense: organist and composer in
residence at Harvard, writer, critic, performer – as on another recent
Divine Art release1 – and consultant. One wonders how he finds
the time to compose so much – over 1100 works – and such varied music.
Much of the output is for the organ: this is Erik Simmons’ fifth
Cooman recording for Divine Art, with several more planned. The earlier
DDA21229 (2 CDs)
DDA25147 – available in mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless with pdf booklet from
and with the Slovak National Orchestra and Kirk Trevor: Liminal
The two reviews of Liminal encapsulate what I imagine will be
complementary views of Cooman’s music. If I lean towards David R
Dunsmore’s ‘interesting … but not original enough’ rather than John
France’s more enthusiastic response, I nevertheless cannot deny the
qualities which the latter finds in the music: ‘beautiful, inspiring and
seductive in equal measure … charged with wonder, mystery and a deep sense
of engagement with the world of nature and society’.
Of some of the pieces, such as the Advent section of A Czech Liturgical Year (track 7) I would even add ‘ethereal’. Much
of the music is in this quiet vein, but Cooman does allow the organist to
let rip, as in the opening Exordium and the Gregorian Diptych
(track 13). On the whole this is late-evening listening with a glass of
wine. I don’t mean that to sound disparaging and I shall be investigating
the earlier Hymnus via eclassical.com and some of Cooman’s other
music on Divine Art, Naxos, Albany and other labels via
Naxos Music Library.
Erik Simmons seems to be Cooman’s chosen interpreter of his music; he
certainly makes a strong case for it.
The recording, made live using the Hauptwerk system, sounds very
good, especially in 24-bit format.
If there is any disadvantage in using this digital virtual organ system, I
didn't find it on this recording. There's certainly none of the
downside associated with electronic organs.
The notes are brief but informative – more about the organ than the music.
I hope that I don’t seem to be damning this release with faint praise. I
enjoyed hearing it and I’m sure that I shall return to it in the right
mood, though it’s not an urgent recommendation. I do, however, recommend
all those with access to the invaluable Naxos Music Library to try Cooman’s
music out there.
1Andreas WILLSCHER (b.1955)
Symphony No.5: DDA25150. Preliminary listening from
Naxos Music Library
suggests that this 2006 organ symphony on the theme of St Francis preaching
about poverty, in a style not unlike Cooman’s own, is well worth
investigating. It’s typical of Divine Art’s pioneering work that this
appears to be the first album completely devoted to Willscher’s music.
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