Erik Simmons: Portals, Carson Cooman Organ Music Vol 11

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This came out a while back but we overlooked it — Simmons/Cooman are prolific to say the least — so we saved it for Easter, as it’s got a contemplative feel to it, while not being too heavyweight. (Though as Simmons is sat at the pedals of the Sun Organ of St Peter and Paul, Görlitz, it’s not exactly lightweight either).

It opens with the thumping Carillon After The Bells Of Ulm Cathedral, which is as ringing as its name suggest. The rest of the album is mostly more meditative, starting with the atmospheric and thoughtful Legends Nos. 1–4, which suggest caves sparking with precious stones and troglodytes hard at work. Other tracks are as contemplative, such as Preghiera Pastorale. Indeed, for much of the album, you can forget you’re listening to a church organ. Tiento De Falsas has a title taken from Iberian music of late Renaissance/early baroque and is slightly stronger in sound.

The main work is the Organ Symphony No. 3, Portals, written for the 90th anniversary of the Martin-Luther-Kirche in Ulm. Over the five entrances of the church appear Biblical inscriptions, and these passages serve as the inspiration for five contrasting movements.

The opening section is louder but the second piece takes the intensity down again, the whole being more meditative in many places until the more joyous closing piece, the appropriately named Sing Joyfully.

Organ music is probably not to everyone’s taste but this programme of work is most un-organ-like in many places, a contemplative CD for Easter.

This is out on Divine Art, DDA 25195.

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