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Martin: Piano Concerto no 2 / De Roo, NSO of Ireland


Release Date: 06/02/1998 
Label:  Marco Polo   Catalog #: 223834   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Philip Martin
Performer:  Philip MartinAndreja Malir
Conductor:  Kasper De Roo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

Special Order: This CD requires additional production time and ships within 2-3 business days.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This CD of the music of Philip Martin (b. 1947) is part of Marco Polo's continuing release of orchestral works by Irish composers—with music of Gerald Barry and John Kinsella being reviewed in this issue (a John Buckley CD is imminent).

Martin studied with Reizenstein, Berkeley, and Richard Rodney Bennett, and brings their aesthetic of classically rooted tonal music to his work desk. ("For a living" he plays the piano and currently is engaged in touring lecture recitals on Irish music titled "Not Just Jigs and Reels.") I was familiar with his music previously only through an Altarus CD of his chamber music, and based on those pieces and by what I hear here, I would judge the composer to be acutely
Read more responsive to outside influences, especially the fine arts.

Martin's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1991), subtitled "A Day in the City," posits "a Dubliner moving through a series of memories of the city in which the early morning bustle and the echo of Gregorian chant are among the more obvious." In five attaca sections, the concerto begins with an opening, blurry-eyed cadenza that soon finds Dublin awakening (reminiscent of the Prolog to Bernstein's Age of Anxiety). The music then moves through a scherzo of bursting city/orchestral life, a third-movement respite after the morning rush hour ends, a fourth movement comprised of the chorales (memories of schoolboy Gregorian chants), and a concluding dance finale that calms the city and puts it to sleep. The music's palette is basically Ravel cum Dello Joio and is as infectiously entertaining as such a fusion indicates.

Beato Angelico (1989-90) was inspired by three of Fra Angelico's paintings, principally Annunciation. Martin portrays different details he finds meaningful, in particular angels' wings flutter as depicted by the work's opening woodwinds; tubular bells, a soulful flute, and discreet harp scales add a sacred/'misterioso flavor to the tone poem's sound. A climax finds violins swirling around brass, woodwind, and percussion. Paired trumpets and a gong intone a solemn conclusion.

The Harp Concerto reprises an idea of contrasts that Martin has used before. Begun in 1993 and revised slowly over the next two years, the music is in two long movements—the first with a slow-fast-slow internal makeup, and the second being a Rondo. The Harp Concerto begins by establishing themes and elegiac dialog between soloist and orchestra. A little less than halfway through there is a central, light Toccata section, with lines dancing toward a climax cut short by a solo-harp passage. The second movement, with its abundant use of the pentatonic scale, puts the harp through its paces in a more concertolike fashion. This is a comfortable Harp Concerto—saying so is nearly a redundancy, I realize—with the warmth of serious but not sober-faced purpose. (Be aware of two faults in production values. The Harp Concerto is indexed as if it were a three-movement work, which it isn't. The Toccata central portion the first movement is indexed as if it were a separate middle movement. Also, the timing of the Rondo second movement is 12:40, not the typo 2:40 printed on the CD backing and CD itself.)

For followers of tonal 20th-century music, there is nothing not to like in this release—colorful, imaginative new music; outstanding performances with the composer at the piano; good sound.

-- Stephen Ellis, FANFARE [9/1998]
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Piano no 2 by Philip Martin
Performer:  Philip Martin (Piano)
Conductor:  Kasper De Roo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Ireland 
Date of Recording: 01/1995 
2. Concerto for Harp by Philip Martin
Performer:  Andreja Malir (Harp)
Conductor:  Kasper De Roo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Ireland 
Date of Recording: 01/1995 
3. Beato Angelico by Philip Martin
Conductor:  Kasper De Roo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Ireland 
Date of Recording: 01/1995 

Sound Samples

Piano Concerto No. 2: Cadenza
Piano Concerto No. 2: Scherzo
Piano Concerto No. 2: Elegy
Piano Concerto No. 2: Chorales I, II And III
Piano Concerto No. 2: Danza - Finale - Coda
Beato Angelico
Harp Concerto: Slow
Harp Concerto: Toccata
Harp Concerto: Rondo

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