David Liptak photo

Composer David Liptak




  • Concerto for Viola and Four Percussion
  • Under the Resurrection Palm
  • Northern Light
  • Trumpet Concerto
  • Trio
  • Rhapsodies
  • Ancient Songs
  • Serenade

  • Concerto for Viola and Four Percussion

    "David Liptak's 'Concerto for Viola and Four Percussion' turned out to be contemporary music at its level best: It was original and adventurous, but it wore these attributes lightly and unselfconsciously. The piece used xylophone, gong, chimes, snare drum and an array of other instrumentsthat seemingly left no percussion sound unexplored. It was, in effect, a sparkiling work that included some of the most ardent viola writing imaginable."
    -John Pitcher, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4/19/06

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    Under the Resurrection Palm

    The selections from David Liptak's "Under the Resurrection Palm" (1993) were notable for their lovely pairing of violin and baritone, particularly in the supple setting of Linda Pastan's poem "The Bookstall" about an avid reader dreaming of "inked paths opening into the future."
    -Jeremy Eichler, New York Times, 2/11/06

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    Northern Light

    "In Liptak's Northern Light, Bay revealed the beauties of a Stravinsky-esque ballet; transparent textures, incisive rhythms, shimmering lightness despite the large orchestra. Commissioned for the RPO's 75th year, the eight-minute overture ... forecast the evening's festive spirit and music-making."
    -Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 1/31/98

    "In between these two favorites was David Liptak's brand-new "Northern Light" (the RPO premiered it in January, and Seaman liked it well enough to pop it into his opening-night program). I liked this piece the first time around, even more the second. It is simply constructed and lucidly, sometimes luminously scored; propulsively rhythmic opening and closing sections recalling Stravinsky's "Symphony in C" surround a brief, mysterious slow section. Best of all is "Northern Light's" coda, in which the music briefly and simply dissolves: an effect perfectly timed by the composer and the players.
    -City Newspaper, Rochester, 10/7/98

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    Trumpet Concerto

    The highlight of the program, which repeats tonight, was the world premiere of Rochester composer David Liptak's innovative and vibrant Trumpet Concerto.

    Liptak wrote this music for Paul Merkelo, formerly principal trumpet of the RPO. Now principal trumpet of the Montreal Symphony, Merkelo marked his triumphant return as guest soloist with a brilliant performance. The concerto showcased hit pure technical prowwess and the RPO's agility.

    The first of three movements intersperses solo trumpet cadenzas with orchestral passages, which trade dissonant harmonies in imitative counterpoint between sections of the orchestra. Early on there was a problem in balancing the solo and harmonic passages, but as the piece progressed the voices became more fully integrated and the solo passages had more room to grow.

    In the second movement, dedicated to the late RPO cellist Lynn Kahle Richmond, Liptak demonstrates and inventive compositional style by using lyrical orchestration to alternately introduce and support the solo themes. The cello section brings in the movement with a mysterious passage that leads to an upper-register solo, which Merkelo seemed to achieve effortlessly.

    Liptak uses dramatic and emotional contrasts, mixing lyricism with growling articulation in the solo passages while maintaining a lyrical undercurrent in the orchestral parts. The lyricism evolves to a fugue that weaves an intricate harmonic tapestry and culminates in rumbling comments from the bassoon, which has the last word here.

    Merkelo sped into the final Presto movement, wowing the audience with his impeccable, swift articulation.

    In this movement, Liptak creates an urgent, restless excitement by combining timpani with horns, using two ratchets (gearlike instruments) in opposing polyrhythms and setting up fresh harmonic relationships between solo trumpet and violas in contrary motion. This delightful and imaginative piece becomes compelling as the drama mounts and accelerates to a close.
    -Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4/20/96

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    It's a gripping modern work with intense drive. One action sets off another, sparking a chain reaction of spiraling energy. Often the headlong rush is frantic, a feeling induced by unsettling rhythms that Liptak, a faculty member at the Eastman School of Music, mentioned during his lively pre-concert talk.
    -Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 3/26/96

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    The closing work, by David Liptak, was more ambitious. Titled "Rhapsodies," it begins with a vigorous, even aggressive, minimalist essay. The middle section is tense in its ruminations, while the finale consists of a series of severe and urgent statements.
    -The Post-Standard, Syracuse, 10/15/92

    Liptak's energetic work for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano reflected the influences of Stravinsky and Messiaen.
    -The Cleveland Plain Dealer, November, 1992

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    Ancient Songs

    Liptak's colorful use of instrumental timbres and spare, translucent orchestration generally enhanced the somber moods of the poetry. The last two pieces, with texts confronting the hollow spectre of death, were hauntingly moving.
    -Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4/10/94

    ...baritone William Sharp was most effective in David Liptak's richly atmospheric "Ancient Songs"
    -The Boston Globe, 11/18/98

    Baritone William Sharp negotiated the chromatic convolutions of the Liptak handily and brought a vast palette of vocal color to its various shadings of night music from mysticism to menace to madness.
    -The Springfield Union News, 11/16/98

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    Music of David Liptak (Eastman Philharmonia, Brad Lubman, Chien-Kwan Lin, et al.) Another Eastman professor, Liptak is more of a traditional composer. All the same, he writes some of the most luminous and arresting music around, as evidenced by the breathtaking account saxophonist Lin and conductor Lubman give of his Serenade.
    -John Pitcher, Staff music critic Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 12/30/05

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