The Scotsman Sessions #14: Maximiliano Martin

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts world shutting down for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on, with introductions from our critics. Here Maximiliano Martin, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s principal clarinet, performs Hommage a Manuel Da Falla by the Hungarian clarinettist Béla Kovács

Under normal circumstances, Spanish clarinettist Maximiliano Martin would be busying himself with the multiple activities his international career demands. Besides his key role as the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s principal clarinet, he’s a much sought-after soloist, chamber musician and teacher, and he even runs his own festival, the Chamber Music Festival of La Villa de La Orotova, in his native Tenerife.

His latest solo recording - concertos by Nielsen, Copland and MacMillan - is due for release on the Delphian label in November.

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“It’s a trying time,” Martin says of the current lockdown, “but one of the positive things to come out of all this is I’m getting to spend a lot of time at home with my family in Newhaven [North Edinburgh] which is unusual for me.”

That includes home-schooling his two boys, aged 6 and 9, but it also means he’s thinking a lot about his mother and sister back home: “Normally I try to get over and see them two or three times a year.”

He’s also been thinking a lot about the awful situation in mainland Spain, which is why he’s chosen a piece of music that expresses the spirit of that country, Hommage a Manuel Da Falla by the Hungarian clarinettist Béla Kovács. “There’s a bit of flamenco in it that might just lift all our spirits,” Martin suggests.

The piece is one of many “Hommages” by Kovács harnessing the styles of various composers from Bach to Bartók, written in the manner of solo studies. This one is cadenza-like, a freely evolving tribute to the traditional Spanish elements of de Falla’s own music. The mood is questioning to begin with, effusive rhetoric answered by muted reflection. Before long, though, the music’s extrovert persona wins out. Martin, a musician whose presentational style is famously all-consuming, captures the drama with impeccable timing and theatrical poise.