Martin Boykan: Flume
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR897     Release Date: 2007-01-01
Cyrus Stevens, violin; Pamela Dellal, mezzo-soprano; Ian Greitzer, clarinet; Donald Berman, piano: The Contemporary Quartet: (Jeanne Benjamin Ingraham, violin; Thomas Kornacker, violin; Jacob Glick, viola; Christopher Finckel, Cello)

During the middle and latter part of the twentieth-century, serialism was much used by concert music composers residing in the United States. Inspired by the Second Viennese School, its adherents include some of the century’s most important and influential names: Milton Babbitt, Ursula Mamlok, Donald Martino, Roger Sessions, and Charles Wuorinen, among others. Even composers not so closely associated with the aesthetic, such as Samuel Barber, Arthur Berger, Aaron Copland, Irving Fine, George Rochberg, and Igor Stravinsky, wrote successful music that utilizes its techniques. Martin Boykan, born April 12, 1931 in New York City and a member of Brandeis University’s music faculty since 1957, has over many years time produced a splendid body of work rivaling that put forth by these aforementioned luminaries.

Surprisingly, Boykan’s list of composition teachers reads like a “Who’s Who” of mid-century stateside neoclassicism. Copland, Paul Hindemith, and Walter Piston guided the young man’s development during his studies at Harvard (B.A., 1951), Yale (M.M., 1953), and the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood—and in fact, the music of his student days clearly shows this influence. But after a lengthy dabble with less rigorous means of ordering pitches (influenced notably by composers such as Elliott Carter and Seymour Shifrin, and, to a lesser extent, Hindemith) that lasted from his 1950s Fulbright Fellowship in Vienna until the late 1960s, the twelve-tone output of composers such as Webern eventually proved decisive on Boykan’s muse, coloring all his mature compositions to a certain degree. In general, his work shows a formidable, though never exhibitionist sense of craft and a challenging, yet always idiomatic feel for instrumental writing; Boykan was for many years an accomplished pianist (appearing with the Boston Symphony and the Brandeis Chamber Ensemble, among others) and his experience as a practical performer clearly informed his oeuvre with the latter quality.

No less accomplished a maestro than Yehudi Wyner has (according to Howard Pollack’s book Harvard Composers) declared Boykan to be the “most fluently brilliant musician I’ve ever known aside from Hindemith” and “one of the glories of our culture.” After experiencing such a first rate clutch of works, it’s hard not to concur with such an enthusiastic assessment. In short, this is a disc sure to appeal not only to devotees of the dodecaphonic aesthetic but also to any discriminating audience member with a sympathetic ear for non-triadic styles.
—David Cleary


This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available for order from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

Various Artists

Martin Boykan: Flume

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $15.99

Track Listing

Sonata for Violin and Piano: I. Molto Moderato
Martin Boykan
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Sonata for Violin and Piano: II. Alla Marcia
Martin Boykan
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Sonata for Violin and Piano: III. Variations
Martin Boykan
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Packet for Susan: It Often Comes Into My Head
Martin Boykan
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Packet for Susan: The Good-Morrow
Martin Boykan
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Packet for Susan: Bright Star
Martin Boykan
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Packet for Susan: The Owl and The Pussycat
Martin Boykan
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Packet for Susan: Well I Remember
Martin Boykan
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Flume - Fantasy for Clarinet and Piano
Martin Boykan
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String Quartet No. 1: I. Sostenuto
Martin Boykan
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String Quartet No. 1: II. Allegro
Martin Boykan
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String Quartet No. 1: III. Interlude, Adagio espressivo
Martin Boykan
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String Quartet No. 1: IV. Leggiero
Martin Boykan
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