Ed Martin: Journeys
Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi and Ed Martin
2018 / Ravello Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Journeys is a collection of fifteen solo piano compositions by Ed Martin, performed by Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi. This is the seventh album by Astolfi that I have reviewed, and I am never less than amazed by her jaw-dropping performances, versatility and interpretive abilities. I should mention up-front that this is modern classical music that is quite often (intentionally) challenging and even uncomfortable, with titles that include “Vexed,” “Obsession,” and “Manic.” A very wide spectrum of moods and experiences are expressed in the fifteen-piece Journeys, but you probably won’t want to take this album to your next massage session!
Journeys consists of “Three Pieces For Piano” composed in 2006, “Swirling Sky” (2014), and the eleven-movement “Journey” (2015-17). “Swirling Sky” and “Journey” were composed for Jeri-Mae Astolfi.
Ed Martin is an award-winning composer whose music has been performed all over the world. He has composed for an impressive variety of instruments including computer music and electroacoustic music. He teaches composition and music theory at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and has served on the faculties of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois Wesleyan University. He holds degrees in music composition from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Florida.
Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi’s repertoire ranges from the Renaissance era through the present. She has been the recipient of numerous performance and research grants and is currently an Artist-in-Residence at Piedmont College in Georgia. Her advanced studies in piano performance were at University of Alberta, McGill University, and University of Minnesota (where she completed her doctoral studies).
“3 Pieces for Piano” consists of “Fanfares,” “Reflection,” and “Soar.” Ranging from very big and dissonant to barely a whisper, it’s a fascinating study in contrasts. “Swirling Sky” is based on an earlier version of the piece for piano and electronics (also composed for Astolfi). From gazing at cloud formations and imagining the creatures the cloud shapes might be to losing oneself during an extraordinary journey in those clouds, this piece is sometimes very quiet and free, and at other times more adventurous and bold. The eleven-part “Journey” is centered on the musical interval of a minor third. “The idea represents an individual, who, over the course of the piece, endures an emotional and spiritual journey through life experiences that are suggested by each movement’s title.” (quoted from the liner notes) Reflective of a wide range of experiences, the music varies from slow and open (“Soul,” “Regret” and “Transcend”) to edgy (“Obsession”) to frenetic (“Vexed” and “Manic”). It’s quite a ride!
Journeys has been a fascinating introduction to Ed Martin’s music (for me!) as well as an opportunity to hear another great performance by Jeri-Mae Astolfi. The album is available from Amazon and iTunes.
October 8, 2018
with Phillip Schroeder