I had not encountered the music of American composer and organist Carson Cooman prior to picking up his most recent release on CD, 2014’s In Beauty Walking . After thoroughly enjoying this selection of music for string orchestra and deciding to recommend it on Expedition Audio, I set about learning more about this fine composer.
Carson Cooman was born in 1982 in Rochester, New York. Now only in his early 30’s, he has produced an astonishing catalog of compositions with opuses numbering over 1,100. His ouevre encompasses a wide variety of genres ranging from music for solo piano, organ, and chamber ensembles to works for choir and orchestra, as well as three chamber operas. The present album, released on British/American label Divine Art, brings together four works for string orchestra, two of which include parts for violin solo and a third featuring a soprano soloist. Though Mr. Cooman does not shy away from the occasional piquant harmony where it serves his creative objectives, on the whole this is consonant, melodic music that falls easily on the ear. From the delicate, reflective beauty of the lullaby “Cradle Song” to the ebullient elation of “The Eagle’s Song” and the halting wonder of “Aria” from the Sinfonia Concertante , Cooman’s music is uplifting, inspiring and beautiful to hear, and yet remains fresh and interesting, never approaching the trite.
A wide variety of influences are apparent in Cooman’s music, but among the most significant are folk music and historical classical music models. On this album alone, Cooman draws inspiration from Native American, Celtic, African, Scottish and Far Eastern origins among others. He is also inspired by music ranging from the Renaissance and Baroque eras through the Romantic period and to modern times. Another prominent characteristic of Cooman’s music is somewhat more difficult to describe, but reflections on the natural world are central to it, as are feelings of calm and happiness, hope, peace and a certain humility that is woven into every bar. In a word, I would describe it as spiritual, and somehow I have the feeling the composer himself would not object to this description.
I’ve neglected to remark on the superb performances for too long. Conductor Kirk Trevor has long championed Cooman’s music – a quick search for their two names on HBDirect.com yielded five matches. Mr. Trevor leads the distinguished Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra and two splendid soloists grace the performances, soprano Leah Crane and violinist Chloé Trevor.
If your tastes in contemporary music tend toward the harmonically challenging, this disc may not be to your liking. However, if you’re intrigued by my description of the music and enjoyed the album samples, I believe you will relish the entire program.