CARSON COOMAN (b.1982): 9 Preludes, Concert Piece: La Tricotea, Madrigal, Lullaby (after Rameau), Bear Mountain Fragments, Summer Solstice, Madaket Dreaming, Mountain Toccata.
Catalogue Number: 12M086
Description: As he approaches the age of 30, the astonishingly gifted and prolific young American composer, having previously demonstrated his effortless assimilation of a huge range of styles, has in the past few years arrived at a very distinctive personal idiom. As his recent works (including these, all from the past 4 years, and the marvelous cantata 'The Revelations of Divine Love' (2009)) clearly show, he consistently turns out works of instant appeal that belies their sophisticated craftsmanship and true emotional depth. The Preludes are a case in point; tonal and harmonically inventive, full of wry, deadpan harmonic twists. This strongly contrasted but cohesive set includes a jaunty little march-and-trio - very Shostakovich-like - a slightly demented folksong pastiche, scintillating, dancing scherzi (one an ingenious palindrome) - and in between, a funeral cortège (in memoriam Donald Martino), and several other slow movements, evocative of lofty echoing spaces. Many of Cooman's works are inspired by close contact with the phenomena of nature, rendered with the observant detail of a painterly eye and often employed as metaphor for profound spiritual and religious matters. Works of this type here include the irrepressible 'Mountain Toccata' with its Coplandish open-air quality and evocation of Appalachian fiddle music, or the freely rambling Bear Mountain Fragments, its steady progress constantly diverted by incidental beauty and drama in the landscape, or 'Madaket Dreaming', a Brittenesque sea interlude albeit from a warmer maritime landscape. The culmination of this expressive mode is the remarkable 'Summer Solstice', a blazing evocation of dazzling hard-edged sunlight expressed in equally brilliant, innovative pianistic terms. The vastly entertaining 'Concert Piece' is a work in free variation form, based on 'La Tricotea' a 17th-century motet that makes a more than acceptable 'La Folia' substitute. This unassuming tune is made to jump exhilaratingly through pianistic hoops from a fairly literal 3-part transcription of the original to extravagant pyrotechnics, in a gloriously extrovert celebration of pianistic virtuosity from the Romantic era to the 20th century. Donna Amato (piano).