PICCOLO STUDIO (DSE529)
for ALTO SAXOPHONE SOLO (Kenneth Radnofsky) with music by Harbison, Schuller and
others. Boston 1043.
PARADISO CHORUSES (DSE301) and ALTO SAXOPHONE CONCERTO
(DSE107). Lorna Cooke DeVaron and Richard Hoenich, cond; New
England Conservatory Chorus and Orchestra; Student vocal soloists; Kenneth Radnofsky, alto
saxophone soloist. New World CD 80529-2.
works presented here are edited versions of live performances. The Saxophone
Concerto, which has been lauded as "lyrical, ever-fascinating, romantic in its
gestures and sounds, captivating and elegantly wrought" (Andrew Porter, the
New Yorker), and containing "a mastery of procedure so
complete that procedure disappears into pure distillations of feeling" (Richard Dyer,
the Boston Globe), was recorded at a concert at the New England Conservatory in
March of 1996. PARADISO CHORUSES is a digitally remastered re-release of the 1976
Crest LP, recorded live in the New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall on May 7 and
15,1975. The work was uniformly critiqued as a "modern masterpiece" and
the original recording won the Record World Magazine Classic Critics Citation for New
Music in 1976.
Robert Carl has written eloquently about Martino's work in the pages of
Fanfare, with many longing references to the Paradiso Choruses. Scored for massive
vocal and instrumental forces, the work is both a self-contained oratorio and the final
act of Martino's music drama, Dante . . . In Martino's larger scheme Inferno is
dissonant, Purgatorio is transitional, and Paradiso is consonant . . . [and] the effect is
radiant. . . the music is splendid. After some wonderfully over-the-top music
that lasts nearly the entire piece, the devil appears. Dante himself in the form of
a tenor takes over the last lines of the text, finally reduced to speech. How it
works as a stage work is anyone's guess, but simply as sound it is quite wonderful.
The Sax Concerto, performed by one of the three musicians who
commissioned it . . . is scored for an expanded chamber orchestra and the tireless
soloist. Nominally in three movements, the work is played without a break.
Always within the frame of reference that the music is not tonal or especially consonant,
the soloist sings a lyrical song essentially accompanied by fragments of the history of
modern music. Heard in that light the work becomes almost a collage of ghosts
surrounding the soloist.
The Paradiso Choruses is a major work, and should be heard and
disseminated as widely as possible. The Sax Concerto is more specialized but worth
knowing. Recommended. -- Fanfare Magazine
IMPROMPTU FOR ROGER (DSE601). PIANO
FANTASY (DSE607), TRIO for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano (DSE528).
TWELVE PRELUDES (DSE604). CLARINET SONATA (DSE502), VIOLIN SONATA No 1,
(DSE512). Eliza Garth, Piano;
Jean Kopperud, Clarinet; Rolf Schulte, Violin. Centaur CD 2321.
This recording is particularly
interesting for the manner in which it shows Martino's development from youthful to mature
works, and gave me a historical context I previously did not have. The chamber works
on the program show a rapid stylistic development: the 1951 Clarinet Sonata mixes elements
of Hindemith and jazz. Just a year later Martino had discovered Bartok, and the
resultant Violin Sonata shows that influence in its modal harmonies and driving
rhythms. Finally, after Martino's undergraduate study at Syracuse and graduate work
with Milton Babbitt and Roger Sessions, the 1959 Trio is a full-fledged serial work.
But this changes dramatically by the time we reach the Twelve Preludes of 1991
[and] the Impromptu for Roger of 1977 These works show enormous freedom, imagination, and
lyricism. There is a mercurial, fleeting quality about them that seems drawn
straight from the true Romantic temperament. No matter that they are serial and
highly dissonant -- they sing. -- Fanfare Magazine
A SET FOR MARIMBA (McG&M23),
PARISONATINA AL'DODECAFONIA (DSE524), TWELVE PRELUDES (DSE604), CANZONE E TARANTELLA SUL
NOME PETRASSI (DSE506), A JAZZ SET: Canon Ball, Cathy, Threeway
(DSE 802-804). The Core Ensemble, New World CD80518-2.
In the mid-1950s [Donald Martino] invented a pseudonym, Jimmie Vincent,
for his jazz playing and composing, a doppelganger that composer Martin Brody, unveiling the 40-year secret in the liner
notes, calls Martino's Mr. Hyde . . . The two most enjoyable pieces on this recording are
from Martino's jazz period: the perky, partly improvised Set for Clarinet, performed here
in an intricate new arrangement for solo marimba, and the swingy, lyrical Jazz Set,
written in 1956-7 for Bill Evans, Elvin Jones, Joe
Benjamin, Bob Prince, and
"Jimmie Vincent." The little song in the middle of the Set, 'Cathy,' is
lovely; and the finale, 'Three Way,' produces such a cheery feeling that we almost wish
Martino had remained Jimmie Vincent, at least for a while. . .
Martino makes the case that he never really left jazz behind,
that its influence shows up in the chord structures, improvised sections, and rhythmic
verve of his concert music. Indeed, the well-made works on this program -- the piano
Preludes and Canzone for clarinet and cello -- do have a bold color and a
"coolness," especially in the piano sonorities, that sound vaguely jazzy.
Certainly the performances are full of life and rhythmic freedom. Still, the
contributions of "Jimmie Vincent" that open and close the program are so
charming that we can only hope Martino will soon allow his newly "outed" alter
ego to have an entire disc to himself. -- American
[Now retired from teaching, and back playing
his clarinet again after a 40 year hiatus, Mr. Martino does hope to record the ten Jazz
compositions written in the summer of 1957 for that group which cut some demo recordings
of four of them but never performed them in their entirety, or in public.]
N.b., This marks the third recording of
TWELVE PRELUDES (also see Albany Troy 169 and Centaur CRC 2321).
AND IMPROMPTUS (DSE602) with Sonatas by Roger Sessions. Randall Hodgkinson and Robert Helps,
piano. New World CD 80546-2.
N.b. This recording re-releases Mr.
Hodgkinson's 1984 LP premiere recording of FANTASIES AND IMPROMPTUS and thus makes
available three recordings of this work (see Albany, Troy 169 and Centaur CRC 2173).
N.b. 2, There are 3 other recordings of this work (Centaur
CRC2173, JRI115, Albany Troy 169,
AND IMPROMPTUS(DSE602) with music by Perkinson. John Cheek on JRI115
N.b., There are 3 other recordings of this work (see Albany, Troy
169, Centaur CRC2173, New World 80546)
A SET FOR CLARINET (McG&M23) with solo
clarinet music by Boulez and others. John Bruce Yeh. Koch
John Yeh seems to be able to do
anything "clarinetic" and do it well. Donald Martino's piece has
effective, sometimes wild writing. Indirectly tonal, its large-scale forms are
easily followed. The middle of the three movements contains leaps that show what
Yeh can do in both maintaining control and shaping musical line. This piece is a
classic in the clarinet literature and could have been written yesterday. Date:
N.b., There are 5 other recordings of this
work (see Advance LP15S, Crystal LP, CRI LP374, CRI CD693 and Ongacu 024-105)
A SET FOR CLARINET(McG&M23) with music by Bernstein and
Copland Sean Osborn "American Spirit" Albany, Troy619
N.B. There are 5 other recordingsof this work(see Advance
LP15S, Crystal LP, CRI LP374, CRICD693, Ongacu 024-105, Koch CD3-7088-2H1)
PARISONATINA AL'DODECAFONIA (DSE524) with
cello music by Schuller, Shapey and others. Scott Klucksdahl, Cello. CRI
Donald Martino's 11 minute 1964 Sonata
for Aldo Parisot ends this disk with one of the most challenging of solo works. --
American Record Guide
N.b., There are 2 other recordings of this
work (see CRI CD564 and New World CD80518-2).
QUODLIBETS II (DSE504) with flute music
by Davidovsky, Schenker and others. Carlton Vickers, Flute. Context CD:11012.
N.b., This is the third recording of this
work (see PNM29 and Music and Arts CD-1012).
For additional extensive reviews see:
AMERICAN MUSIC, vol. 15, No 2;
Centaur CRC 2173: FANTASIES AND IMPROMPTUS (DSE602), PIANISSISSIMO (DSE606), SUITE IN OLD
FORM (DSE603), Eliza Garth,
AMERICAN MUSIC, Spring 1998: Albany, Troy
168 and 169: NOTTURNO (DSE523), PIANISSISSIMO (DSE606), TRIPLE CONCERTO (DSE105), TWELVE
PRELUDES (DSE604), IMPROMPTU FOR ROGER (DSE601), PIANO FANTASY (DSE607), FANTASIES AND
IMPROMPTUS (DSE602). Speculum Musicae, David
Holzman, The Group for Contemporary