Reviews

Due Per Due for Cello and Piano

Commissioned by the Barlow Endowment, 2007 for NY Philharmonic Principal Cellist Carter Brey. Premiere with Carter Brey and Christopher O’Riley, February 5 2010 at Montclair College.

Palm Beach Daily News (December 2010): A difficult but rewarding new piece of music received its world premiere Sunday night at the Kravis Center, and its presenters made sure that first sendoff was an exemplary one.

Cellist Carter Brey and pianist Christopher O’Riley debuted Justin Dello Joio’s Due per Due (Two for Two) before a midsized but noisy crowd at Dreyfoos Hall that nonetheless gave the work appreciative applause.

Dello Joio, a professor at New York University, has written a two-part piece that makes severe technical demands, but rewards the effort with a dramatic first movement that has an emotional heart of significant power, and a second movement of non-stop calisthenics and high excitement.

Brey, principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, is a polished, precise performer with a focused, classic sound, and O’Riley, best-known as the genial host of National Public Radio’s From the Top, is a pianist of thorough technique and impressive control. Both players delved into Dello Joio’s 12-minute work with obvious commitment, and made a persuasive case for it.

The first movement, Elegia: To an Old Musician (in memory of composer Norman Dello Joio, Justin’s father), alternates seemingly random fragments, including a recurring nagging motif, with a long, passionate melody that stops just shy of opening up, like a speaker trying to say something coherent from underneath a mask of grief. The perpetual-motion second movement has cello and piano trading continual cascades of scales, often interrupted by savage, sudden chords that shock the machine but fail to stop it from running.

Due per Due is an effective piece of high seriousness and spotless craft, and it would make a good addition to adventurous solo recitals.

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Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain, A Chamber Opera in One Act for 4 voices and 33 Instruments – commissioned to a libretto by A Boyle, by Det Norske Blaseenensemble and The Bergen International Festival, to commemorate the 100th year of Edvard Grieg’s death. Premiered at The Ultima Music Festival, released in summer 2008 on Bridge Records.

Sequenza 21: 12/30/08 writes, ”This one act chamber opera, scored for only a handful of voices and winds, is amazingly colorful and nuanced in orchestration, and full of lyrical power. The introduction, for winds alone, oozes and shimmers… This is a moving, colorful and emotional composition. This is opera done right. All the energies in this work are focused upon the emotions of each character and the deeper subtext beyond the surface events.” Read entire review: www.sequenza21.com

Fanfare Magazine 1/09  “This one act opera is an impressive piece of work. Justin Dello Joio, son of Norman, is a composer who knows how to communcate without selling out. Dello Joio brings to vibrant life the mood swings of the tormented Grieg.’

Sonata for Piano

Sonata for Piano - premiered and broadcast live from The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. The premiere of the work was given by pianist Meral Guneyman. Recorded by pianist Garrick Ohlsson, for Bridge Records, and included in 8 city tour including New York, Philadelphia, spring 2008. The work has been performed by Stephan Gosling, Stephen Masi, and numerous pianists throughout the US, Europe, and Asia.

New York Times, Allan Kozinn March 11, 2008, “A highlight of his (Garrick Ohlsson) Town Hall recital was Justin Dello Joio’s Sonata for Piano (1987 revised 2005), a muscular but essentially lyrical three-movement work that Mr. Ohlsson has also recorded for Bridge Records. Mr. Dello Joio has built this piece around an arching, almost Baroque theme, and while his harmonic language edges toward prickly dissonances, the salient features of his music are thoroughly traditional. His melodies sing, and if you’re fond of Lisztian thundering basses, he offers plenty of those as well.”

The Washington Post, Paul Hume, “It is wholly original in sound, solidly set in ways that make the finest piano music.” –

Piano Quarterly. “Dello Joio’s marvelously controlled textures, bravura climaxes, melody, tonality and clever craftsmanship”

American Record Guide (July August 2007 issue) “rigorous and tightly unified, an imposing tautly argued Sonata replete with plenty of lyrical effusion and drama… In short, genuine music- the kind that moves listeners, that matters. I’ll return to this often for Dello Joio’s eloquent and impassioned sonata…”

Music For Piano Trio/The March of Folly

Music For Piano Trio/The March of Folly - recorded on April 18, 05, by Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society violinist, Ani Kavafian, New York Philharmonic Principal Cellist Carter Brey, and pianist Jeremy Denk , for Bridge Records release of works by Justin Dello Joio.

The New York Times (September 2010): Ms. Vinokur was joined by her Trio Vela colleagues — Ms. Barston and the violinist Asmira Woodward-Page — for a vigorous performance of “The March of Folly,” a humorous, sometimes acerbic piano trio by Justin Dello Joio. The march of the title, which appears, in different form, in two of the four movements, is in the spirit of Stravinsky’s “Histoire du Soldat,” but with a sharper, more up-to-date edge. And its finale, “Prayer for Chiara,” has an appealingly questioning quality. Read full review

Gramaphone Magazine September 2007 issue headlined their review, “Exquisite new music that finds four worthy champions” and “Justin Dello Joio: just the right tone of voice… Building like a Mahlerian symphonic movement, the tonal implications blossom in aching beauty…”

The San Francisco Chronicle chief music critic wrote of the Bridge Records CD “the clarity and wit of his writing are delightful… The March of Folly is vivid and evocative” and the Sonata for Piano “profusely imaginative”

The New York Chronicle, Jay Nordlinger on the premiere at Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society

“The program ended with something highly meritorious. This was Music for Piano Trio ‘The March of Folly,” by Jusitn Dello Joio. Any relation? Yes he is the son of the late composer Norman Dello Joio. The piano trio is in four movements, beginning with the March of Folly… It sounds like that too. It is full of drama and character, sounding well nigh operatic. Then we have a movement called Respite..Interesting too. The third movement is the march of Folly:To the Abyss/Cataclysm. It is like the first movement only madder and more cataclysmic . Has ever so much fury ever been packed into a piano trio score? The last movement is Epilogue:Prayer for Chiara. It is truly beautiful and moving.

I found this work utterly involving; Dello Joio had me every step of the way. And let me say something especially personal: It was gratifying to be moved by a new piece of music, something I have experienced too seldom. And from now on, when I hear the name Dello Joio, I will perhaps think of Justin as much as Norman.” 

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Two Concert Etudes

Two Concert Etudes - commissioned by the NYS Music Teachers Association, premiered in Merkin Hall, 2001. Performed in San Fransisco, by Garrick Ohlsson, and numerous cities by other pianists

International Record Review (July-August 2007 issue)  wrote “Dello Joio’s works are utterly compelling…The works performed here are intense, full of suffering and Angst. ..’ The Concert Etude entitled Momentum “is a vital and exciting exploration of two musical ideas, which are juxtaposed and combined with huge rhythmic energy and constantly alternating meters, with a fantastic drive and a headlong rush to the very end. ..my impression is that this medium is ideal for Dello Joio: a corpus of works in this style might provide us with an early 21st century alternative to the Ligeti Etudes... This most important release leaves one wanting to hear much more.”

Cleveland Dealer, 11/06, writes, "Ohlsson devoted most of his recital to classical and Romantic masters, but he didn't preclude the 21st century. Justin Dello Joio, son of late American composer Norman Dello Joio, exerted a distinctive personality in his Two Concert Etudes. The first, "Momentum," is a concise essay of dreamy lines and perpetual motion, while "A Farewell" broods, cascades and soars majestically.”

Musica Humana, Symphonic Poem for Orchestra

Musica Humana, Symphonic Poem for Orchestra - premiered by Swedish conductor Sixten Ehrling at Alice Tully Hall; subscription performances by The Detroit Symphony.

“Musica Humana is alarmingly competent in its handling of the orchestra, its boisterous open air feeling is communicated with confidence and skill, it is brilliantly accomplished” 

– Nicholas Kenyon of New Yorker magazine

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