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Marya Martin Plays Eric Ewazen

Martin,Marya / Ewazen
Release Date: 05/10/2011 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1271  
Composer:  Eric Ewazen
Performer:  Marya MartinJeewon ParkPeter KolkayAyano Kataoka,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

EWAZEN Flute Sonata No. 1 1. Mosaics. 2 Bridgehampton Suite. 3 SeaSkye Songs 4 Marya Martin (fl); 1,4 Jeewon Park (pn); 2 Peter Kolkay, 3 Jesse Mills, 4 Arnaud Read more Sussmann (vn); 3 Danielle Farina (va); 3 Edward Arron, 4 Carter Brey (vc); 2,4 Ayano Kataoka (mar, pc); 4 Susan Narucki (sop) ALBANY TROY 1271 (71:52)

Eric Ewazen has long been a member of the Juilliard School. He is a prolific composer, and in addition to much else has written plenty of flute music, a lot of it for his friend Marya Martin. As well as being a first-class flutist, Martin is the founder and artistic director of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, held each summer in Long Island. Two of the works on this well-filled CD were composed for Martin—the Bridgehampton Suite and the flute sonata—and while the others were written for different artists I suspect that all these performances came from the Bridgehampton festival, although the CD notes do not specify this. (They are studio recordings, not live.)

The First Flute Sonata’s opening Allegro leggiero features an arpeggio accompaniment reminiscent of Fauré. This smooth, French-sounding sonata is in three movements, the second not unlike the first, and the third lightly jovial. The Bridgehampton Suite also employs a fast/slow/fast movement structure; this time the influence is Mozart. The work was designed to be programmed alongside the master’s flute quartets. Ewazen’s piece can hold its own in such company—no mean feat—and while one or two key shifts might perplex him, Mozart would probably appreciate it. Ewazen does not rethink Mozart in modern terms to the extent of Bolcom’s Fantasia Concertante , but is content to remain within the realms of pastiche. He explores the unusual colors of the trio in his Mosaics , and is especially deft at exploiting the contrasting registers of the bassoon. He knows that flute and bassoon blend rather nicely (as do flute and marimba). The work’s four movements are dance-based; they are titled Barcarolle, Fantasia and Fugue, Pavane, and Tarantella. Some lovely limpid moments appear in the first of these dances, while the finale is enjoyably lively. The SeaSkye songs are settings of poems by Karen Wagner (also at Juilliard), which deal with love and loss while evoking the landscape of the Isle of Skye in the Hebrides. A Scottish influence accounts for the occasional modal harmonies, but by and large these songs are in the style of the earlier American vocal composers Barber and Rorem. Soprano Susan Narucki sings with a warm tone but—this is a perennial complaint—you can barely make out a single word she is singing. Luckily the texts are supplied. All the performers are sympathetic and assured in this grateful music, with Martin’s flute outstanding.

I have a soft spot for Ewazen because the first Fanfare review I wrote was of a disc of his joyous and heartfelt concertos for solo instruments with string orchestra (oboe and violin concertos on Albany 577, well worth a listen). A friend of mine described his music as “charming,” which seems like damning with faint praise, even though genuine charm is a rare commodity. It is tonal, mellifluous, well written for the instruments, generally easygoing, and extremely conservative, even taking into account the fact that today’s music has re-embraced a listener-friendly approach. The pieces on this disc are certainly charming (and the songs rather more than that) but eventually the law of diminishing returns comes into play. After so much gentle and gentlemanly music one begins to long for dynamism, or some sense that the listener is being taken on a journey from A to B rather than A to A. Perhaps that simply means this is a disc to dip into, not to play through in one sitting. Its positive assets of melody, sophistication, and craftsmanship remain solid.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Flute and Piano no 1 by Eric Ewazen
Performer:  Marya Martin (Flute), Jeewon Park (Piano)
Period: 21st Centruy 
Written: USA 
Mosaics for Flute, Bassoon and Marimba by Eric Ewazen
Performer:  Peter Kolkay (Bassoon), Marya Martin (Flute), Ayano Kataoka (Marimba)
Period: 21st Centruy 
Written: USA 
Bridgehampton Suite by Eric Ewazen
Performer:  Danielle Farina (Viola), Marya Martin (Flute), Jesse Mills (Violin),
Edward Arron (Cello)
Period: 21st Centruy 
Written: USA 
SeaSkye Songs by Eric Ewazen
Performer:  Jeewon Park (Piano), Marya Martin (Flute), Carter Brey (Cello),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Arnad Sussmann (Violin), Ayano Kataoka (Percussion)
Period: 21st Centruy 
Written: USA 

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