American Record Guide

Having reviewed Cooman as a composer of numerous well-written organ pieces, now I am interested to hear him as a performer. Andreas Willscher is a German composer who has won numerous awards and had commissions ranging from symphonic works and oratorios to cabaret, jazz, and rock scores. He has written several organ works that blend traditional elements with con¬temporary and jazz influences. In 1971 he was appointed organist of St Francis Church in Hamburg where, in 1975, a large fresco and 11 windows on the life of St Francis were commis¬sioned. What resulted was this 12-movement symphony, subtitled “of Francis’s preaching about holy poverty” inspired by the windows. It is not program music per se, but it is meant to be a large-scale meditation on this theme. He employs a motive (FDA-Francis d’Assisi) and several Gregorian chant melodies in alternating toccata, fughetta, and meditative movements.

Silence is used as an element of equal impor¬tance to sound, particularly in VII, which, at 13 minutes, is the longest. Long chords alternate with even longer silences—so long you will think the movement is over!

Cooman’s success as a composer for the organ is due in large part to his innate understanding of the instrument as a performer. He plays a large and wonderful 1973 Marcussen organ found in the Laurenskerk in Rotterdam. Notes on the composer, music, and specifica¬tion of the organ.

—Robert Delcamp