Mark Louis LEHMAN (b.1947) Chamber Music - Vol. 1 Hungarian Suite, for piano (1988) [5:52] Sonatina for Violin and Piano (2005) [11:06] Sonatina in C for Piano (2006) [10:34] Sonatina for Cello and Piano (2007) [18:54] Three Primitives, for piano (2007) [8:11] October Farewell, for cello (2008) [3:42] Sleeping Cats, for piano (2009) [11:40]
Angela Park (piano) Albert Mühlböck (piano: Cats) Rachel Patrick
(violin) Cole Tutino (cello: sonatina) Alan Rafferty (cello:
rec. 2015, AirTime Studio, Bloomington, IN, USA ENHARMONIC ENCD16-031 [69:44]
Composer and music-writer Mark Louis Lehman was born in Cincinnati and has also pursued a career as a literature academic at University level. He became a music reviewer for the American Record Guide which still produces exclusively in hard copy.
Mark Lehman's four page liner-note - in English only - gives an unpretentious outline of the man and the featured music. I would only criticise a failure to touch on what else he has written.
He recounts that he is a 'self-taught composer' more interested in "imbuing his music with humane sensibility and depth of implication". His most-admired composers give some broad step-up to appreciating the sound of his music: Hindemith, Bartók, Piston and Martin.
Given this lineage of admiration it comes as no surprise that his music is tonal, kindly and succinct. It is by no means effusive, glitzy or long-winded. The Hungarian Suite is gentle: by and large contemplative but not static. It sports two dance movements among the four. The Violin Sonatina is his first sonata-form work. The music is calming and in the finale full of pointed life. The Piano Sonatina occupies similarly Hindemithian ground with its pianola-punchy outer movements each starting with "a rhythmic variant of the first five notes of Mathis Der Maler". There's a dreamy complexity about its central Andante which the mind delights in following or untangling. The Cello Sonatina - intriguing that Lehman lays no claim to 'Sonata' - starts with a semi-grotesque Con moto. Then comes an emotionally cooling Siciliano and a bouncingly patterned Allegretto giocoso with a fugal feel which yet staves off any academic overtones. This is the longest work here. Back to solo piano for Three Primitives which is the most angular and exploratory of the works here. It stands out in this company. The Missing Link Tango intrigues with its hop and hobble gait. October Farewell is a touching elegy in memory of a friend who died in 1994. Again Lehman resists the temptation to be garrulous and is all the more moving accordingly. Last come the five 'elegiac reveries' of Sleeping Cats, each distilling the composer's feelings for the five felines who were the composer's companions over the last forty years. There's a sweetly melancholy Lullaby, a tentative Pastorale, a glowing Idyll, a shining crystalline Papillon and a thoughtful Gently into that good night. All five seem shrouded in a fragile dream. Quite apart from their innate charms, they would, either as a group or individually, work well as tender and pulse-slowing encores at the end of a concert.
I should declare an interest here: Mark was instrumental in opening my ears and mind to a wide range of music when in the early 1980s for some five years we exchanged cassette tapes of a wide range of broadcasts and private recordings.
Mr Lehman has over the years had a handful of works recorded commercially. This however is the first disc devoted exclusively to his compositions. Volume 2 is expected sometime in 2017.
If you are in the mood for sincere, unshowy and gently eloquent music then look no further.
Rob Barnett Details Hungarian Suite (1988)
Harvest Song — Poco allegretto 1:53
Transylvanian Two-Step —Allegretto :55
Rainy Afternoon — Andante 1:39 1161
Hopping Dance — Allegro con spirito 1:25 Sonatina for Violin and Piano (2005)
Allegretto con spirito 3:36
Canzonetta — Andantino 4:03
Allegretto vivace 3:27 Sonatina in C for Piano (2006)
Allegretto con spirito 2:54
Andante malinconico 4:39
Allegretto vivace 2:31 Sonatina for Cello and Piano (2007)
Con moto 7:56
Siciliano — Andantino cantabile 6:00
Allegretto giocoso 5:03 Three Primitives (2007)
March —Con moto malinconico 3:00
Sarabande — Andante molto 2:49
Missing Link Tango — Tempo di tango 2:22 October Farewell (2008) 3:42 Sleeping Cats (2009)
Lullaby (for Mia) — Larghetto 2:28
Pastorale (for Oreo) — 2:20
Andantino con moto
Idyll (for Pippi) — Adagietto sognante 1:56
Papillon (for Snowflake) — 1:54
Andantino con moto
Gently into that Good Night (for Inky) — 2:52
Adagietto tenuto, dolce e dolente