recordings from Dantalian Inc, Donald Martino

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Donald Martino CDs


bullet.gif (272 bytes) PICCOLO STUDIO (DSE529) for ALTO SAXOPHONE SOLO (Kenneth Radnofsky) with music by  Harbison, Schuller and others.  Boston 1043.

bullet.gif (272 bytes) 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.

        Both 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

bullet.gif (272 bytes) 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

bullet.gif (272 bytes) 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 Record Guide

[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).

bullet.gif (272 bytes) FANTASIES 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,

bullet.gif (272 bytes)FANTASIES 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)

bullet.gif (272 bytes) A SET FOR CLARINET (McG&M23) with solo clarinet music by Boulez and others.  John Bruce Yeh.  Koch CD3-7088-2H1.

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: 1954.
                                                                                                          -- Fanfare Magazine

N.b., There are 5 other recordings of this work (see  Advance LP15S, Crystal LP, CRI LP374, CRI CD693 and Ongacu 024-105)

bullet.gif (272 bytes)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)

bullet.gif (272 bytes) PARISONATINA AL'DODECAFONIA (DSE524) with cello music by Schuller, Shapey and others.  Scott Klucksdahl, Cello.  CRI CD762.

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).

bullet.gif (272 bytes) 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, 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 Music.

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