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BASIL RAMSEY explores the music of Frank Martin

Koch        3-6732-2

Record Box


Frank Martin: Polyptique; Etudes pour orchestre a cordes; Sonata da ChiesaThe precision and discipline of Frank Martin's writing is always balanced by the music's warmth and invigorating effect on the senses. Heard rather less today than yesterday, his was a voice strong and clear, which undoubtedly has now become somewhat muffled. This rewarding disc offers a chance for reappraisal.

Three works span much of his active life as a composer: Sonata da Chiesa (originally 1938 but later rewritten), Etudes for String Orchestra (1955-6), Polyptique (1973). Taking the middle work first as arguably better known than the others, it does in its four movements project a glittering display of contrapuntal devices. Frank Martin's marginal note at the end of the score, 'Everyone and everything in its place', is a wry comment on a work dependent on this premise. But there is also a beauty of expression that mantles the whole work.

Sonata da Chiesa has its own style of rhetoric, creating the textures of each of the four movements as quietly dramatic moods that darken and lighten with the flow. Polyptique arises from Martin's interest in a polyptych seen in Siena - a series of small pictures on wooden tablets depicting scenes from Christ's Passion. It struck him as an idea translatable into music, which resulted in these six musical pictures, wonderfully moving, thus allowing insight into the intensity of Martin the composer, and Martin as reverential man.


Copyright © 24 May 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK





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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews