FRANK MARTIN: MUSIC FOR WINDS
MATTHEW WESTGATE, conductor
MASSACHUSETTS CHAMBER PLAYERS
“This recording makes available music that has been rarely recorded or not at all... Martin’s music is not easy to perform. The difficulties are not technical so much as atmospheric and interpretive. The Swiss composer (1890–1974) possessed a subtle dry wit, and performers have to find the right balance between irony and sincerity... The Massachusetts Chamber Players strike just the right balance... The performers get [the] mood just right; one can see them smiling as they play... The detailed, well-written notes provided in the booklet are very helpful to our appreciation of the music, as is the clear and well-balanced recording. This is a wonderful addition to the Frank Martin catalog, and anyone who has found his music attractive in the past is likely to enjoy it as much as I did.”
Henry Fogel, Fanfare [May/June 2018]
“these musicians make a great case for [Martin's] music. Martin comes across as a modernist minor master whose style is as varied as his homeland—colorful Gallic orchestration, soaring Italian arias, and stern Teutonic weight. He can be as witty as Les Six, as impulsive as Stravinsky, as serious as Hindemith, and as worldly as Ravel. The Massachusetts Chamber Players meet this challenge with expertly balanced woodwinds, robust and exuberant brass, and skilled and forceful percussion. Experienced listeners will note that ensemble passages are somewhat clinical, especially in contrast to the extroverted and daring solo lines. Jaunty accompaniments are prudent, and smart counterpoint is discreet. Is this a nod to the cool objectivity of post-romantic Europe or the careful management of an all-star group?... Westgate makes a strong impression with this album, and his effort should expand the wind literature to include this terrific composer.”
Hanudel, American Record Guide [May/June 2018]
“[a] fascinating tribute to Frank Martin... the playing is well coached, vital and virtuoso; check out the trumpet riff in ‘Dance with the Athlete’ or the searing alto sax in ‘The Dance with the Mother and her Child’. It captures the emotion... There is also much to enjoy from the elegant trombonist in the Concerto for Winds and Piano... The stunning recordings were made at the University of Massachusetts; the large military side instruments called Basel Drums on track 3 play uninterrupted for 90 seconds of pure audiophile hell – or delight!”
Laurence Vittes, Gramophone [April 2018]
"Now this very enterprising disc gives us three more almost forgotten works... The performances here are full of verve and swagger and the recording is full and clear... this a fascinating disc."
Stephen Barber, MusicWeb International [March 2018]
“[Totentanz] has found a careful and respectful reading that deserves note.”
Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition [January 2018]
"There’s a special charm in catching a glimpse of a major composer in the guise of a practical musician — writing film scores and theatrical entr’actes, tailoring incidental music to specific occasions, and so forth. The pieces here, either scored or re-orchestrated for woodwind ensemble, show the Swiss composer Frank Martin cobbling together little pieces for the stage, once for a puppet theater in 1920s Paris, and again for a mime piece mounted in 1943 by his niece... [The results] tickle your ear so unabashedly that they’re hard to resist, and when Martin does go in for a more ambitious stretch, as in an extended pas de deux for Death and a young girl, the effect is effortlessly eloquent. Conductor Matthew Westgate leads his ensemble with a combination of expressivity and tangy crispness."
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle [January 2018]
"The performances of these scores by the Massachusetts Chamber Players and conductor Matthew Westgate are dramatic, incisive and passionate and are very well recorded. For Martin fans, this is a necessary purchase. Others will find a score full of delights."
Robert Moon, Audiophile Audition [February 2018]
“This recording makes available music that has been rarely recorded or not at all... Martin’s music is not easy to perform. The difficulties are not technical so much as atmospheric and interpretive. The Swiss composer (1890-1974) possessed a subtle dry wit, and performers have to find the right balance between irony and sincerity... The Massachusetts Chamber Players strike just the right balance... The performers get its mood just right; one can see them smiling as they play... The detailed, well-written notes provided in the booklet are very helpful to our appreciation of the music, as is the clear and well-balanced recording. This is a wonderful addition to the Frank Martin catalogue, and anyone who has found his music attractive in the past is likely to enjoy it as much as I did.”
Henry Fogel, Fanfare [January/February 2018]
“Martin had more skill in wind composition than is generally realized, as Matthew Westgate and the Massachusetts Chamber Players show.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [January 2018]
PROGRAM NOTESConductor Matthew Westgate organized the Massachusetts Chamber Players in the fall of 2016 specifically for this recording project. The ensemble is comprised primarily of woodwind, brass and percussion faculty member musicians from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and artist teachers from the Five-College Consortium of Western Massachusetts. Several UMass alumni and student musicians, western Massachusetts freelancer musicians and guest players rounded out the instrumentation. The Department of Music and Dance of UMass Amherst, the flagship campus of the Umass system, is one of the largest music programs in New England, providing more than 250 performance and concert opportunities each year across seventeen instrumental ensembles, six vocal groups and numerous solo and ensemble recital series. UMass music faculty members are noted leaders in the fields of performance, pedagogy and scholarship; they create a community at UMass that promotes individual growth through artistic and intellectual discovery.
Matthew Westgate is the Director of Wind Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he conducts the Wind Ensemble and Symphony Band and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in conducting. Prior to his appointment at UMass, Westgate was the Director of Instrumental Activities at Xavier University in Cincinnati, where he conducted the Symphonic Winds, Chamber Orchestra and Pep Bands. Equally comfortable working with wind bands, orchestras and chamber ensembles, Westgate is in demand as a guest conductor, clinician, lecturer and adjudicator. In the summer months, he conducts the Wind Ensemble at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan. In 2007, he was chosen as one of eight conductors to conduct the Eastman Wind Ensemble as part of the first Frederick Fennell Conducting Master Class, and in 2009 was billed as one of the West Point Band’s “Bernsteins of Tomorrow.” He has also served as a conducting assistant in the Opera Theatre and Music Festival in Lucca, Italy. In 2013, Westgate was awarded Cincy Magazine’s “Outstanding Educator” award for his work as a teacher and conductor in Cincinnati, and in 2015 received the Residential First-Year Experience (RYFE) Student Choice Award for going above and beyond to support first-year students at UMass. His current research focuses strongly on the music of the Swiss composer, Frank Martin. Matthew completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he studied with Rodney Winther, and his Masters Degree in Conducting at Western Michigan University where he studied with Robert Spradling.
PROGRAMFRANK MARTIN (1890-1974)
CONCERTO POUR LES INSTRUMENTS À VENT ET LE PIANO (1924)
for piccolo, flute, E-flat clarinet, B-flat clarinet, alto saxophone, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, 2 horns, 2 trombones, percussion and piano
Mouvement de Blues
CONCERT SUITE FROM EIN TOTENTANZ ZU BASEL IM JAHRE 1943
for 4 clarinets, 5 saxophones, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, contrabass, percussion and piano
Introduction, March of the Drums
Death with the Old Man
Dance of Death with the Mother and her Child
Dance of Death with the Athlete
Death with the Rich Man
Dance of Death Alone
Dance of Death with the Young Girl
Dance of Death with the Self-Murderer
Dance of Death with the Beautiful Lady
ZWISCHEN RHONE UND RHEIN (1939)
Official March of the Swiss National Exhibition for wind ensemble