Fanfare

Back in 38:1 I reviewed a previous disc of short organ works by Carson Cooman, also performed by Eric Simmons, on a disc titled Litany. I liked the music well enough, but had a serious complaint about the modern Dutch organ used in the recording. Here, I have no complaints about the instrument at all—indeed, I’m pleased as punch with the selection of a splendid Cavaillé-Coll organ in the cathedral church of Notre Dame in Saint-Omer in France. Moreover, if anything I also like the repertoire here even better than on that previous disc. With one exception from the year 2000 (op. 186), all of the pieces in this recital drawn from Cooman’s astonishingly fecund output date from 2013 to 2016 (opp. 1046 to 1156). After the arresting, dramatic opening of the title track, Exordium, most of the miniatures that follow are quiet, suitable for reflection and contemplation in a church as preludes and postludes. Several items—the Gregorian Diptych duo and two of the three Hymn Fantasies—draw upon Gregorian chant melodies, while others—the Little Partita and the five-movement A Czech Liturgical Year—utilize native carols. Certainly there is no lack of individuality; the “Easter: Aleluja!” from the Czech suite positively oozes a chipper folk-music character, while the “Prélude jovial” from the Deux petits préludes dances with sprightly aplomb. The proceedings are well recorded; the booklet provides very brief (one to three sentences apiece) notes on each work, photos of Cooman and Simmons, and a list of seven previous releases of the composer’s music on the Divine Art label. While in the past I have found Cooman’s craft somewhat uneven in quality, here he uniformly puts his best foot forward, with felicitous results; unreservedly recommended.

—James A. Altena