Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

The album up today is not totally indispensible. Not, that is, unless you are an organ music afficionado. In other words if you don’t have any or if you have little organ music in your collection, this is probably not the one to get. Bach, Messiaen, Widor, etc., might be better first choices.

That’s because Carson Cooman’s Litany, Music for Organ (Divine Art 25116), as played by Erik Simmons on the beautiful Marcussen organ in Laurenskerk, Rotterdam, has the entire organ repertoire presupposed as what it follows, and you might get a bit of that first. On the other hand the music itself can be experienced of course independently and you may not hear how it fits in but would certainly find the listening worth your time.

Carson Cooman lives today, an American composer in his prime. I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of hearing his music before but he apparently has orchestral works, etc., and a fair number of recordings out there that one can listen to.

For now it’s the organ music that concerns us. The album gives us a generous sampling of 12 compositions both in single and multi-movements. They cover the recent era, from 1999 to 2013.

You can hear in a modern tonal idiom an affinity with the French school of organ composers (Franck through Tournemire, Vierne, etc.) in the symphonic splendor and worked through classicism-cum-romanticism that these composers excelled in over the last 150 years, give or take.

Cooman writes inventive, modern tonal music that follows in the footsteps of such composers, to my ears. There is much to like. The performances and sound leave nothing to be desired. It’s all there.

Carson Cooman gives us a body of work here that I hope will continue to grow. He is a bright light that shines for us in this 72-minute program. Organ music fans take note! Recommended.

—Grego Edwards