Reviews

Music

“a ravishingly beautiful setting of a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem. The Cuban-born Addison composer achieved an amazingly beautiful sound despite using rather complex harmonic language to reflect the text. He did this by focusing on the lyricism as well as a consciousness of vocal blending. [As does] the poem, Martín offered an outward layer of traditional lyrical beauty while the inner machinations — including clashing harmonies and rhythms — reflected a deeper truth. He also built and varied the flavor, bringing drama to the work, coming to a climactic finale. But it always sounded beautiful.” — The Rutland Herald

The Glass Hammer

“Mr. Sylvan’s performance was a shattering tour de force. . . . Martín’s music had tensile strength, declamatory sweep and often poignant lyricism. . . . At a time when so many song composers are placating audiences, Mr. Martín’s ambitious and challenging cycle stands out.” – New York Times (June 11, 2000)

“Martín has written what seems a masterpiece—a song cycle that lets the poems spew forth naked childhood experience, but wraps that experience in music of unforgettable purity and savage intensity.” — The Washington Post(Feb. 2, 2002)

“something epic and monumental. . . . The Glass Hammer is the most perfect match of word and music in an art song cycle of this length that I know by any American composer–ever!” — Eclectica Magazine

“… extraordinary… revelatory…. What Martín has achieved in these ‘scenes from childhood’… is quite remarkable. Employing a host of American idioms, including gospel and jazz, he embraces the poems’ atmospheres and feelings in tellingly animated, probing and expressive gestures. Martín… couldn’t have tapped a more ideal team to perform his songs….” – Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Long Leaf Opera’s second annual summer festival [2008] included what could be considered the strongest and most satisfying of all its offerings this year,… Jorge Martín’s The Glass Hammer…. Martín, although born in Cuba and now a resident of Vermont, has, to this Southerner’s ear, captured all the right flavor of the period and setting. … Martín’s music is highly pictorial, whether quietly conjuring fireflies on a summer night with short filigreed phrases or creating the strokes from the father’s punishing belt with immense, pounding chords. The music is always at the service of the text, which is set without pretension or overt showmanship, despite such clever touches as the little fugue under musings about inheriting a family’s looks or the suitably comic cadenza by the preacher.” — The Classical Voice of North Carolina

Cello Music

“[Martín] writes in an appealing tonal idiom that is often engrossing and quite original. A serious-minded composer, Martín has a penchant for grappling with difficult philosophical concepts and important existential questions… I am particularly taken with the somber second movement and the extended finale [of the Cello Sonata], which provides an appropriate conclusion to this passionate and mysterious work. Perhaps even more remarkable is the 10-minute piece for unaccompanied cello, Recuerda, … the piece as a whole is deeply affecting. I believe that Martín has made a very important addition to the cello repertoire. Cellists looking to add contemporary music to their recitals would be well advised to give Recuerda a close listen…. I enjoyed this disc a great deal, and I will be returning to it often.”  — Fanfare Magazine (Sept. 28, 2011)

Conjuration

Earthy Cuban Sounds, Rendered With an Urban Complexity 
By ALLAN KOZINN, New York Times
Published: January 10, 2007

If you’ve been curious about the state of new music in Cuba, Sequitur offered an answer of sorts in its program at Merkin Concert Hall on Monday evening. But it was an answer with an asterisk, for although the six composers on the program were all born in Cuba, and most began their musical training there, they live elsewhere now.

Still, most of the music keeps its Cuban roots clearly in focus, even when techniques and textures are as eclectic as can be. In ”Conjuration” (2003), Jorge Martín begins with an alternation of slow, tolling sections and bursts of manic energy, but the score melts into an essay in transformed folk melody. Lyrical clarinet lines and rustic violin themes are accompanied by piano and cello figures steeped in Latin rhythms, yet the more acerbic writing of the opening section is always close at hand…..

Beast and Superbeast

“carefully balanced and contrasted, always entertaining and often hard-hitting, focused on relations between humanity and animals, and usually showing humans as second best. The librettos by Andrew Joffe . . . preserve Saki’s often savage irony, his inclination toward the macabre (sometimes with supernatural overtones) and his affection for surprise endings. Composer Jorge Martín . . . is a versatile master of conservative modern idioms who draws exactly what he wants at any moment from an extensive musical vocabulary . . . Sredni Vashtar is a witty, psychologically convincing and theatrically chilling 40-minute study of conflict between the generations . . .” – The Washington Post(March 1996)

“likeable, eclectic scores . . . these fabulously wickedtales made for a provocative and amusing evening of theater . . . intricate, dramatic music . . . [Tobermory features] a brilliantly written sextet.” – The New York Times (June 1996)

“A roaring good time. . . . the most ingenious opera of the metropolitan Washington area season, and also, one of the best . . . The score is . . . compelling, sometimes discordant and harsh, yet also melodic and flowing, with a few choice ensembles to titillate the ear . . . the kind of theater experience we all hope for – a good chuckle, some surprises, but also a lingering disquiet, something to mull over . . .” – Montgomery Gazette (March 1996)

“A ‘Beast’ of marked superiority . . . a vivid, witty set of pieces . . . Mr. Martín wields a sharp pen . . . each opera catches the funny and disturbing aspects [of the stories] in music that is unfailingly pungent and often asserts itself in short, driving phrases. Instrumentation is vivid – and different in each work. The best-known tale, Tobermory . . . swings along delightfully in a mixture of cool jazz, tango and ragtime, culminating in a vigorous vocal quintet. The two-characterSredni Vashtar . . . is wonderfully colored by winds and percussion . . . The Interlopers and The Mappined Life, short and tart, are equally well-aimed . . . a terrific show.” – The New York Post (June 1996) & The American Record Guide (September/October 1996)

“a compelling quartet of new chamber operas . . . Two of the operas were written in an expansive, unabashedly romantic, post-Wagnerian idiom . . . rollicking Tobermory boasts an eclectic score that spoofs a range of Italian opera conventions – the elegiac bel canto aria, the ‘vendetta’ ensemble – and draws, as well, on Richard Straussian lyricism; ragtime; and jazz.” – The New York Native (July 1996)

Tobermory

“exquisite . . . It’s comedy made moving, thanks to Jorge Martín’s affecting music and Andrew Joffe’s witty lyrics.” – The Washington County Chronicle(August 1997)

“a well-knit, multi-layered work with wonderfully melodic arias and an interesting score. . . [Martín and Joffe] successfully kept all [Saki’s] darker undercurrents . . . Colorful and exciting.” – The Glens Falls Post-Star (August 1997)
“as fine a modern opera as I’ve reveled in for ages . . . with a wickedly witty libretto . . . an accomplished, smooth work that is lyric theater at its best . . . often hilarious, always sophisticated lyrics . . . colorful, tune-filled score . . . It is difficult to single out individual pieces, as all the music works, but there is a sextet midway through I wouldn’t mind hearing a few hundred more times, and an ensemble later on where the guests plan Tobermory’s demise is as funny as music this beautiful gets . . . . Here’s hoping some recording company is daring enough to record this genuinely thrilling opera.” – The Troy Record (August 1997)

“an absolutely brilliant one-act American opera . . . The clever and witty piece is filled with really wonderful ensemble numbers.” – The Lake George Daily Gazette (August 1997)

“exciting . . . compelling . . . complex and multi-layered . . . sizzling crescendi . . . sometimes maniacal musical score.” – The Schenectady Chronicle (August 1997)

Tobermory showed a deft hand at opera writing . . . Martín’s music is impassioned and formal at once. The ensemble numbers were especially creative and original. The vocal writing was graceful and must have made difficult but truly grateful challenges for the singers. This is a composer to whom opera companies should pay attention. Close attention.” – Shelburne (Vermont) News (August 1997)

 

Romance

composer Jorge Martín’s pastoral Romance [performed by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra] proved both striking and moving…. It’s a finely crafted tone poem. — The Times Argus

Saxophone Quartet

“[Jorge Martín] knows how to write beautiful melodies and produce colorful harmonies. Thoroughly convincing.” – Wiener Zeitung (July 1993)

 

OTHER COVERAGE & INTERVIEWS:

 

Plundered Hearts

New York Times review, April 21, 2003

 

Time – March 6, 2000 p. 75 “Back to the Future” by Terry Teachout

 

Burlington Free Press – March 4, 2000

 

Seven Days – March 1, 2000

 

Out in the Mountains (Vermont) – October 1999

 

Addison Independent (Vermont) – June 24, 1996

 

The Montgomery Journal (Maryland) – March 8, 1996

 

American Record Guide – Sept./Oct. 1996