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Martin Boykan: Music for Piano, 1986-2007 / Donald Berman, piano

Album Summary

>Boykan, Martin : Usurpations, for piano
>Boykan, Martin : Sonata for Piano no 3 ("To the memory of Edward Cohen")
>Boykan, Martin : Towards the Horizon, for piano
>Boykan, Martin : Fantasy - Sonata, for piano
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Pianist Donald Berman's recording of Martin Boykan's piano music gives passionate voice to the music of one of America's most undervalued composers. Berman describes the music as: "... lyrical, yet atonal; melodic, yet with wide leaps in register; it sustains over large expanses, yet has quick inner pulsing." Berman describes his encounter with Boykan's music: "At the start I was awed by the diamond-like purity of individual moments, daunted by the complex counterpoint...it was music that lived in my head for a long time after performing it. It is deeply personal."

American Record Guide, January/February 2015
I know this sounds like the old canard that "it all sounds alike", and that's overstating the case. Certainly the overall character of these pieces varies, and certainly also there are some distinct and memorable ideas, as for example the B-D-A-G-sharp motive that leads off and reappears (in varied guises) through his 17- minute, 1986 Fantasy-Sonata. But Boykan demands a level of attention to subtleties and shadings that few will find it easy to maintain for long. Yes, he rewards this effort eventually; and yes, just letting the music flow along one senses its purity, its unhurried evolution, its affecting nuances, its thoughtful, humane intelligence. Once you get inside of one of Boykan's jewel-boxes you'll have a strong incentive to enter more of them.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Distler Hall, Granoff Music Center, Tufts University.



Reviews

Berman makes difficult music seem easy
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 each 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.

"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.
Submitted on 10/22/14 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Boykan, Martin : Usurpations, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1997

>Boykan, Martin : Sonata for Piano no 3 ("To the memory of Edward Cohen")
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Running Time: 19 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2007

>Boykan, Martin : Towards the Horizon, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2007

>Boykan, Martin : Fantasy - Sonata, for piano
  • Performer: Donald Berman (Piano)
  • Running Time: 16 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1986