The Tracker

I was aware that Carson Cooman was composer-in-residence at Harvard Memorial Church and was curious to know what his music was like. This CD provides an excellent answer. Cooman is an extremely prolific composer; the recording includes works from Opus 140 to 1006! Surprisingly perhaps, his style is completely harmonic and strikes me as being about as adventuresome as typical ‘modern’ organ composers of the 1950s or so. On the other hand he has such a sure control of melody, rhythm and structure that, even though there is nothing difficult or foreign for the listener, his music is always fascinating and worth hearing. One is tempted to compare him with John Rutter, another composer who is always easy to listen to, much to the consternation of many of his non-fans. But Cooman doesn’t seem to be aiming for the hit parade – or the ivory tower. He’s just doing his job of making some nice music, beautifully crafted, and perfect for the occasion.

Erik Simmons straddles two careers – organist and high tech. He’s an employee of the Intel Corporation, involved in new product development among other things. As a straddler myself – organist and organbuilder – I’m very impressed with his playing but of course I have no way of judging his other performance. He seems to be quite capable of performing anything Cooman throws at him: this is his fourth CD of Cooman’s music.

The Marcussen organ in Rotterdam’s Laurenskerk was built in 1973 and is quite grand with four manuals and some 85 stops, including a battery of five horizontal reeds. It has the distinction of being Europe’s (I would guess the world’s also) largest instrument that is entirely mechanical. Except for the blower there is nothing electrical in it! The balance and finish of its scaling and voicing, and the state of its tuning for this recording is almost too good. Such perfection can seem sterile but its sheer beauty somehow overcomes that tendency. Among other ear ticklers is a luscious string celeste in the Bovenwerk (Swell) that Cooman and Simmons frequently make use of.

Charming CD. You will enjoy it.

—George Bozeman