GAYLE MARTIN at The Leschetizky Association at   TENRI – Review

Gayle Martin in concert, photo provided by Gayle Martin
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The GAYLE MARTIN Piano Recital took place at The Leschetizky Association at TENRI  43A W. 13th St., Manhattan, New York on March 9th, 2024.

Last Saturday evening, my concert companion and I were graced with a banquet of great piano music served by as expert a practitioner of the keyboard as I am personally aware. The artist by name is Gayle Martin, and it is a name you should seek out and know better. I’ve been fortunate to have known this name for several decades. When I was informed that Ms. Martin was returning to the city where she received her musical education at Juilliard, and had dwelled for decades before returning to her native, Houston, I jumped at the opportunity to attend this most recent live performance downtown which was sponsored by an association dedicated by name, and mission to the finest examples of keyboard artistry. 

Gayle Martin

 Ms. Martin first achieved prominence on the international scene as the sole American laureate of the 6th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, being but the 3rd American woman to reach the finals to that time. Her previous studies at Juilliard included being among the last students of the legendary pedagogue, Mme. Rosina Lhevinne,( teacher of Van Cliburn, among others) and upon graduation, she performed at that venerable institution, the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No, 1, with the orchestra conducted by Alfred Wallenstein, whereby she was awarded the coveted Josef Lhevinne Prize. 

Gayle Martin

She has since been heard and heralded worldwide and has made several recordings of the music of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy, De Falla, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, as well as compositions written expressly for her by Judith Shatin: ” The Passion of St. Cecilia”( a concerto for piano and orchestra) ”To Keep the Dark Away” (to the poems of Emily Dickinson) among others. 

This recital, which she performed earlier this winter in Wilmington Delaware, Ms. Martin referred to as being, ” A VERY Romantic Recital”, and indeed none musically aware of such 19th century masterpieces could argue that assessment. It consisted of works by Grieg, Franck, Brahms, Schumann, Schumann/Liszt, and Chopin. 

Gayle Martin

Part of the fascination of Ms. Martin’s art is not merely the perfection of her technical prowess, nor her innate musical instincts in bringing out as much sonic information as a human can attentively hear and listen to, but her ability to reveal the architecture within the compositions reflecting all the more vividly the genius that generated each work. 

The first two offerings were from Grieg’s “Holberg’s Time” Op.40. Praeludium wherein Martin appeared to glide along the 88s with an ease that would have warmed the Norwegian on such a winter’s night. The next were Two Lyric Pieces by the same composer: Little Bird, Op.43, No.4 and Notturno, Op.54, No.4. The clarity of the slight feathery being evoked in Op.43 made me glad that I kept my cats at home, for there would have been feline mayhem in the recital hall. The Op.54 sang of a Norwegian night that would have made Ibsen smile, for indeed he was a onetime collaborator of Grieg for the playwrights’ Peer Gynt

Then came on the program which one could argue was the most daunting work of the evening, yet most agreeably so: Prelude, Chorale, et Fugue, FWV 21 by Cesar Franck. It runs some twenty minutes in length and every moment of every note is an homage to the deity, as was every note, much earlier, was dedicated to God by J. S Bach, who obviously was a major influence on this Belgian/Frenchman/ Organist, most renowned for his immortal Symphony in D Minor. This piece is rarely performed, simply for the reason of its demands on the pianist, and more so, on the depth of musical perspicacity gifted to the performer. In the hands of Gayle Martin, we heard a dramatic account of transgression and soulful reclamation and were uplifted in the process, as well as literally from our seats in but the first of several standing ovations at this intermission of the evening. 

Gayle Martin

After a brief recess of wondering what could possibly follow the Franck, there came Johannes Brahms’ Two Intermezzi, Op. 118.  These brief yet pithy pieces of late Brahms were dedicated to Clara Schumann, widow of the great Robert, and probably the closest friend in Brahms’ life. 

Then came another main course in Ms. Martin’s menu, Robert Schumann’s Fantasy in C, Op. 17, first Movement. This stunning early work of the composer, dedicated to his then elusive love, Clara, before they were allowed wed, is as true and great an example of everything the Romantic Movement, from the beginnings of late Beethoven, through Schubert, Robert’s good friend, Mendelssohn, and very much, Franz Liszt, was intended and aspired to evoke. Chopin was ready to join and indeed it was Schumann, wearing his perceptive critic’s hat that proclaimed, upon discovering the Pole’s first published offerings: ”Hat’s off, Gentlemen, A Genius!”  Schumann’s Fantasy wholly proclaims his composition’s own, and Martin rendered it in holy fashion.  

Continuing Schumann’s immortal love and eventual conjugal union we then heard Widmung (Dedication) which Robert wrote as a wedding present to his bride. I can merely imagine that Ms. Martin’s playing resembled the virtuoso for whom it was written, Clara Schumann, herself whose only keyboard rival of the era was Franz Liszt, who not incidentally, arranged this piano piece of Schumann’s original song, himself. 

Gayle Martin in concert

The finale of the recital was Chopin’s Scherzo in C-Sharp Minor, Op 39. Properly played, this piece simply takes your breath away. I’m still hyperventilating. Another standing ovation, and a welcome encore of the main theme, ”Be Still My Soul” from Finlandia by Jean Sibelius finished this musical repast, by this master musical chef, Gayle Martin. 

I entreat all musical organizations and personages of influence to wisely engage this utterly exceptional artist. You could not make a wiser decision in your programming season, nor for your own listening enjoyment. 

Photos were provided by Gayle Martin.



  1. So glad to read such beautiful comments. Would have loved to hear you; maybe next time.
    Best wishes.
    Zitta Zohar

  2. I was blessed to have Gayle agree to accompany me to play the Poulenc Flute Sonata. I had no idea of Gayle’s resume which is so eloquently written here. I was thrilled when Gayle made some wonderful suggestions when she “heard” important chords and emotions in the Poulenc piano part. The performance was amazing, better than I could have done without Gayle’s encouragement. God Bless you! Alicia Harris, (in Houston)

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