Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Martin Boykan: Music for Piano (1986-2007)

Martin Boykan's music is rigorously 12-tone, but that doesn't mean it's academic nor mechanistic. His music breathes, expanding and contracting in a naturalistic flow. While there are some abrupt changes in dynamics and tempo, often the music smoothly transitions from one emotional state to the next.

This album features four piano works by Boykan, It begins with Usurpations (five bagatelles), five music portraits based on quotes from each subject's compositions. Although the movements are short, Boykan takes the musical quote and very quickly transforms it into his own creative voice.

The composer describes Towards the Horizon as a spiritual narrative. The music does evoke spirituality. The dissonances are softer in the work, and within each movement there's more of a fluidity of texture.

The Sonata No. 3: to the memory of Edward Cohen is the most complex work on the album. I found I could penetrate the denseness of this four-movement sonata only with repeated listening. But it was worth the effort. This is a solidly constructed piece of music, and every note is indeed there for a reason.

Donald Berman's performances of these works is nothing short of amazing. This is very difficult music -- not only to perform, but to internalize. Berman shows he's in command at all times. He knows where the music's going, and his expressive playing gets us there in a clear, straight-forward manner. And does a great service both to the composer and to the listener.

Martin Boykan: Music for Piano (1986-2007)
Donald Berman, piano
Bridge Records 9434

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