CARSON COOMAN (b.1982): Symphony No. 2 "Litanies of Love and Rain", Symphony No. 3 "Ave Maris Stella", Piano Concerto (Nora Skuta [piano], Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Kirk Trevor), Sonata for Violin and Organ, Vision (Rachel Gough [violin], Rupert Gough [organ]), Partita (Stephen Schultz [baroque flute]), Songlines, Sun Dreaming (Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra; Trevor).
Catalogue Number: 05I090
Description: Two principal characteristics of Cooman's music are economy of gesture and a certain asceticism, perhaps allied to the first. His harmonic language is generally too acerbic to fit comfortably the accepted idea of neoclassicism, though the concerto uses (original) classical-sounding material and departs somewhat from this impression, the music nonetheless sounding more like a tribute to the classical era than a neoclassical reinvention. The Third Symphony is a somewhat bleak piece with shadowy undertones; it gradually reveals itself to be based on the plainchant. There is an underlying seriousness and lack of frivolity to Cooman's idiom here, with a sense of repressed - sometimes barely suppressed - anger and pain. The composer's vocabulary is based firmly in functional tonality, though with free use of whatever dissonance is appropriate and contrapuntal textures often pursued linearly rather than for harmonic resolution. One feels this dissonant pull especially in Songlines, a tribute to Sculthorpe, which skillfully emulates the landscape-wildness of Sculthorpe's own music in Cooman's terms. The big violin sonata - with organ (Cooman's own instrument) accompaniment - deserves mention; a wide-ranging work, lyrical and songlike, tinged with melancholy though culminating in a lively finale incorporating American folk influences.