Carson Cooman / Carlotta Ferrari: Women Of History

review cooman women x1 cong

Albums from organist Cooman are the opposite of buses: you wait no time at all, and another two turn up. The man never sits still.

This new one is an album of music by the Italian composer Carlotta Ferrari, professor of music composition at the European School of Economics in Florence.

Ferrari has written many works based on historical figures, and the five works on this album are inspired by the lives and works of famous women.

The tone is set by the first piece, Lady Frankenstein, for Mary Shelley, writer of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, a book some have said was the first science fiction novel (and which created havoc in the English language, as Frankenstein was not the monster).

The mood is gothic and sombre, a mood ideal for organ; Ferrari writes that she was thinking of the facts that the creature was created by Frankenstein with body parts, while Shelley’s own mother died while giving birth to her daughter.

The mood stays downbeat and sombre throughout the album. Other women recalled are Maria Restituta Kafka (1894–1943), a nun who was executed by the government of Nazi-run Austria for her public denunciations and resistance; Guglielma Boema, a heretic who lived in Milan at the end of the 13th century (she died naturally, but was posthumously condemned by the Spanish Inquisition and her bones disinterred and burned, while three of her live devotees were sent to the stake); and Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), a Spanish nun who experienced periods of spiritual ecstasy in her devotional practice, claiming that that she rose spiritually into perfect union with God. These were all serious people, and the music reflects that, although it is uplifting in places, and it’s all atmospheric; music for reflecting on life.

This was recorded on the main organ of Laurenskerk, Rotterdam. The CD is out on Divine Art, DDA25178.

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