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
In Liptak's score there is also the close hamonization one associates with Stravinsky's Symphonies of Wind Inastruments. ... Liptak adroitly inserts dissonance, often in sharp, angular accents, and emplys the wide-spaced intervals that replace melody in contemporary music. But he allies dissonant gestures with a dedication to melody at the same time - this is another hallmark of his personal expression.
Huntley Dent, Fanfare Magazine, July/August 2022
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. 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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String Quartet No. 3
Partway through JACK Quartet's Friday night concert at Roulette, something unusual occurred; the group was playing with a rich vibrato. ... The vibrato, which was lovely, came in the third movement of Liptak's excellent String Quartet No. 3. After hearing JACK for years produce gripping sounds in avant-garde compositions of the likes of Helmut Lachenmann and Horatiu Radulescu, it was a charming and slghtly bewildering revelation to hear how they sound playing minor chords. And JACK sounded wonderful. As did Liptak's piece, a contemporary statement on the history of the string quartet. ...The style is expressionistic, with direct roots in Bartók, Dutilleux and, it seemed, the moody, quasi-romantic modernism of André Boucourechlíev. The tonality is minor key, and there is a velvety darkness covering a fiery intensity."
George Grella, The Classical Review, January 17, 2015
David Liptak's Commedia was the other commissioned work on the program, a set of musical portraits of the antics of the 16th century Comedia dell'Arte comic figures Harlequin and Columbine, Pierrot, Pulcinella and Scaramouche. Liptak, fluent in the language of violin and clarinet sonorities, has crafted vivid images while avoiding the lure of the caricature and has done this with energy and a sense of humor.
Washington Post, 3/9/09
His Commedia , composed in 2001, is an evocation of the 16th-century commedia dell’arte . Harlequin, Columbine, Pierrot, Pulcinella, and Scaramouche are all given highly characterful portraits. One cannot listen to this music without recalling Schoenberg’s world-storming Pierrot lunaire . His atonal and highly instrumentally colored settings of Albert Giraud’s poems will, of necessity, haunt any composer with the temerity to deal with any of the commedia dell’arte characters. Liptak’s language is appropriately jagged and disjunct. It is in the quiet second section, “Intermezzo—Pierrot,” that he practices his most humanistically telling magic by forging the link between all of those overtly comedic characters (with their heroism, pathos, wisdom, cluelessness, and grotesqueries) and ourselves.
Fanfare Magazine, William Zagorski, July/August 2007
(the concert by newEar Contemporary Ensemble) ... concluded with a major work, David Liptak’s Rhapsodies for Flute, Clarinet, Piano, Violin and Cello, under the direction of Steven Davis. In three connected movements, Rhapsodies evolves and flows from a single, simple melodic cell. The first rhapsody, marked 'Con Forza,' is indeed an insistent, forward moving yet ultimately lyrical movement. 'Lirico, which follows, is immediately more sustained and relaxed, a flowing, languid nocturne. Flute and clarinet (NewEar stalwarts Thomas Aber and Lyra Pherigo) contributed wandering, lazy lines, colored by splashes from the piano and pizzicato strings. The final rhapsody, 'Allegro Disinvolto,' is dance-like in character. Starting out a bit stilted and mechanical, the dance soon takes off, involving the whole ensemble, with flute predominant, until the piano alone pirouettes to the silvery conclusion.
I Care if You Listen magazine, 10/5/13
Concerto for Viola and Percussion Quartet
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 instruments that 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
The highlight of the program, which repeats tonight, was the world premiere of Rochester composer David Liptak's innovative and vibrant Trumpet Concerto. ... The first of three movements intersperses solo trumpet cadenzas with orchestral passages, which trade dissonant harmonies in imitative counterpoint between sections of the orchestra. ... 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 (soloist Paul 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 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
Songs for Persephone
Liptak’s Songs for Persephone open with nervous energy and conclude with touching melancholy. In between, there are some memorable and enchanting moments, like the combination of flute and voice in the third song, ‘Persephone Drinks’, and the harp-like sound of Goluses’s guitar on the last song, ‘Love’. Lewek’s contribution recalls a different character from Greek mythology, the sound of a siren. Whether harmonizing or in unison with Boyd’s delicious flute, the combination is nectar for the ears.
American Record Guide, 7/30/2010
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
... Liptak ... 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, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 12/30/05