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Carson Cooman: Piano Works / Donna Amato

Cooman / Amato
Release Date: 02/08/2011 
Label:  Altarus   Catalog #: 9015   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Carson P. Cooman
Performer:  Donna Amato
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



COOMAN 9 Preludes. La Tricotea. Madrigal. Lullaby (after Rameau). Bear Mountain Fragments. Summer Solstice. Madaket Dreaming. Mountain Toccata Donna Amato (pn) ALTARUS AIR-CD-9015 (62:40)


This is my first exposure both to the music of Carson Cooman and the playing of pianist Donna Amato. Cooman has a compelling and personal voice, and Amato clearly possesses the insight and technical skill to realize these eight pieces with confidence and authority.

Read more /> The Nine Preludes are informed by two concepts that might at first blush seem contradictory. His notes describe the original musical material that is shared by each movement, yet some of the preludes are clear homages to a group of composers that superficially seem to have little in common. The motivic links serve to unite the preludes while the disparate dedications lend the movements a bracing contrast that keeps the listener ready for the inevitable surprise.


Since the first is dedicated to Johannes Brahms, a composer usually viewed as a traditionalist, one might expect a trajectory that proceeds along conventional lines. In fact, Cooman unearths seeds in the Austrian’s work that propel him through profoundly unsettled territory. He uses clear references to the composer’s music, but the harmonies are tugged and pulled just enough to create uneasy ambiguities. I am delighted to see a movement dedicated to the living English composer Michael Finnissy, an artist I admire greatly but whose music I have yet to review. It is essentially a folk song, reassembled off-kilter, as the notes describe. The tune itself is usually clearly and simply enunciated, but sharply foreign exclamations intrude often, usually in a very different register from the tune.


Something vaguely similar happens in La Tricotea , but the treatment and its effect could hardly be different. Described as a paraphrase of an anonymous Renaissance Spanish three-part motet, the closest parallels in the experience of most listeners might be Godowsky or Busoni, comparisons that are imprecise at best. It’s a tour de force of keyboard athleticism, and Amato delivers the goods with gusto and good humor. Madrigal also reaches back to the Renaissance and the music of Luca Marenzio, but the result is austere, distant, and forbidding. Similarly, Lullaby (after Rameau) employs what might be considered “safe” sources, but the result is more disjunct and atonal than any other track on the disc.


The common thread here is that the composer prefers to approach each piece from a unique vantage point. He doesn’t have one particular language that suffices for every inspiration he encounters. He is keenly aware of a wide range of musical history, and he revels in using this material to inspire a full palette of inventive devices. In the end the music speaks for itself, and the listener is likely to find delights in every piece even as Cooman places his compositions in the context of centuries of tradition.


FANFARE: Michael Cameron
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Works on This Recording

1. Preludes (9), for piano, Op. 722 by Carson P. Cooman
Performer:  Donna Amato (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2007 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  Futura Productions, Roslindale, Massachu 
Length: 28 Minutes 20 Secs. 
2. La Tricotea, concert piece for piano, Op. 699 by Carson P. Cooman
Performer:  Donna Amato (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2006 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  Futura Productions, Roslindale, Massachu 
Length: 4 Minutes 36 Secs. 
3. Madrigal, for piano, Op. 771 by Carson P. Cooman
Performer:  Donna Amato (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2008 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  Futura Productions, Roslindale, Massachu 
Length: 4 Minutes 22 Secs. 
4. Lullaby, for piano, Op. 806 (after Rameau) by Carson P. Cooman
Performer:  Donna Amato (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2009 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  Futura Productions, Roslindale, Massachu 
Length: 3 Minutes 52 Secs. 
5. Bear Mountain Fragments, for piano, Op. 754 by Carson P. Cooman
Performer:  Donna Amato (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2008 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  Futura Productions, Roslindale, Massachu 
Length: 5 Minutes 53 Secs. 
6. Summer Solstice, for piano, Op. 720 by Carson P. Cooman
Performer:  Donna Amato (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2007 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  Futura Productions, Roslindale, Massachu 
Length: 7 Minutes 48 Secs. 
7. Madaket Dreaming, for piano by Carson P. Cooman
Performer:  Donna Amato (Piano)
Written: 2008 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  Futura Productions, Roslindale, Massachu 
Length: 6 Minutes 13 Secs. 
8. Mountain Toccata by Carson P. Cooman
Performer:  Donna Amato (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  Futura Productions, Roslindale, Massachu 
Length: 3 Minutes 10 Secs. 

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