Kirk Trevor

Carson Cooman: Nantucket Dreaming

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American composer Carson Cooman has had a phenomenally productive career, with opus numbers into the 800s by his 27th year, and he has maintained an active performance schedule as an organist, as well as being a music journalist and entrepreneur. The works on this CD, written between 2002 and 2007, are scored for a variety of forces ranging from solo to full orchestra, and all were inspired by the landscapes of Nantucket Island, off the coast of Massachusetts. Cooman's music is lyrical and tonally centered, but he usually avoids falling into easy neo-Romantic clichés. His is particularly gifted as an orchestrator, and his works are full of delightful colors and inventive effects that he integrates with complete naturalness. In spite of the fact that each of these pieces, many of which have in their titles locations on the island, is linked to a particular landscape or experience, sometimes with programmatic specificity, they are fully successful as abstract music. Particularly effective are Miacomet Dreaming for orchestra and Shawkemo Dreaming for strings, brief tone poems with a bittersweet, evocative character, a specialty of Cooman's. The Quintet for bassoon and strings is especially attractive, with a striking opening, in which the strings create a dense, harmonic fog out of which the bassoon solo emerges with the clarity of a lighthouse beacon. Madaket Dreaming is a lovely, wistful nocturne for solo piano. The strongest piece may be the Lyric Trio, a compelling, disciplined six-movement work for trumpet, cello, and piano that the composer describes as an "American Travelogue." The performances by a variety of European orchestras and ensembles and American soloists are uniformly top-notch: polished, sensitive, and energetic. The recordings were made in various venues so the sound somewhat varies from piece to piece, but it is never less than excellent in its clarity and presence.

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