Los Tigres de Marte   CB0016

The music

Frequently shifting focus as its harmonies melt one into another, this swirling piece finds its wildly branching roots touching on many styles of music—from Delius and Debussy to bop to techno. Los Tigres de Marte is sometimes lush and enveloping, sometimes brittle and percussive, sometimes suspended and motionless, sometimes agitated and aggressive, but always engaging.

The composer writes about Los Tigres:

“Like many American composers of my generation, I was raised on a diet of bebop and serial music. In college in the 1960s, my music reflected these influences and teachings—from Miles Davis to Stockhausen. I abandoned all this in 1970/71 when I made my first pieces in my then-new style—one of clear, tonal harmonies and ‘pretty’ melodies. In Los Tigres de Marte, I tried to place my recent (still harmonically based) language inside of one that resembles that of my student days: tight clusters, glissandi, and even some bebop-driven rhythms.” 

The recording features the playing of long-time Cold Blue clarinetist/collaborator Marty Walker, for whom the piece was written in 2003, and a quartet of some of Los Angeles’ top studio string players, all bathed in lively, glowing textures of electronic sounds and samples.

The composer

Daniel Lentz’s works have been commissioned and performed by noted ensembles and soloists around the world, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Zeitgeist, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. A prolific composer whose works are often characterized by intricate musical processes, a bit of theater, and an interest in the human voice, Lentz has written large- and small-scale works for most common instrumental combinations, many unique ones, and the many ensembles (usually consisting of multiple keyboards, singers, and electronics) with which he has toured his music throughout the U., Europe, and Japan since the early 1970s. Lentz has been the recipient of many awards and grants, including five grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Video presentations of his work have been seen on Alive From Off Center (PBS), the Preview Pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver, BC, NHK-TV in Japan, NOS-TV in Holland, BBC-TV in England, West German Television, Czech Television, and many local television stations in the U.S. and abroad. Recordings of his music have been released on the New Albion, Angel/EMI, Cold Blue, Fontec, Aoede, Les Disques du Crepuscule, Gyroscope/Caroline, Icon, Materiali Sonori, and ABC labels. Commenting on Lentz’s music, noted composer/performer Harold Budd has said, “I have heard the music for the new millennium, and it’s Daniel Lentz’s.” The Los Angeles Reader has written that “Lentz’s work ‘chortles’ in ways both sensual and intellectual.”

The performers

Marty Walker is a clarinetist who specializes in the performance of new music. (He has premiered more than 90 works written especially for him.) Among the labels for which he has recorded are Cold Blue, CRI, O.O.Discs, Tzadik, Grenadilla, Echograph, New World, and Rastacan. Walker has toured and recorded with various new-music ensembles, including the California E.A.R. Unit (the in-residence ensemble at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), the Robin Cox Ensemble, Some Over History, eXindigo, Viklarbo, and Ghost Duo. As a soloist, he has presented live radio concerts on NPR, Pacifica, and other radio venues and has performed at numerous new music festivals, including New Music America (Miami and Houston), the International Festival of New Music (Los Angeles), and New Music International (Mexico City), and various new music venues, including Real Art Ways, FaultLines, the Monday Evening Concerts, Knitting Factory West, Podewil, and Wires. The Los Angeles Times has called Walker’s playing “masterfully expressive;” El Nacional (Mexico City) has said that his playing “took the audience to another musical dimension;” and Option magazine called him “one of the finest new-music clarinetists in the country.” In 2002, Cold Blue released Walker’s CD Adams/Cox/Fink/Fox, about which Fanfare magazine wrote, “The performances are about as ego-free as one can find, and they seem indivisible from the compositions themselves.” In 2001, Cold Blue released his CD Dancing on Water (Walker on clarinet/bass clarinet, with additional noted new music players William Winant, Amy Knoles, and Wadada Leo Smith, performing works by Lentz, Fink, Garland, Byron, Fox, and Cox), about which 21st-Century Music magazine wrote: “Both the playing and the recording quality are sparkling.” Walker also appears on Cold Blue CB0001 (Last Things/Fox), CB0004 (I Hear It in the Rain/Fink), and CB0010, (The Light That Fills the World/Adams).

Brad Ellis (keyboards) is a pianist, electronic keyboardist, sound designer/programmer, composer, conductor, and arranger who first began performing Lentz’s music in 1983, while still a piano student of Johanna Harris and a composition student of Henri Lazarof. Ellis has performed on five recordings of Lentz’s music and was the featured performer in Lentz’s keyboard concerto, An American in Los Angeles, premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1989. As a performer, keyboard programmer, conductor, and arranger, he has worked on many film and television projects with composers Jack Nitzsche, Michael Hoenig, J. Peter Robinson, Joseph Vitarelli, Snuffy Walden, Paul Buckmaster, Don Preston, and others.

Peter Kent (violin) is concertmaster of several orchestras and chamber groups in the Los Angeles area, including the L.A. Mozart Orchestra and innumerable session orchestras. He has performed at the Carmel Bach, Ojai, San Luis Obispo Mozart, and Abbey Bach festivals, and at other noted chamber series and festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada. He toured for several seasons on Columbia Artists CAMI Recital Series with harpist Amy Shulman in the violin and harp ensemble 51 Strings. He is very active as both a concert performer and a studio musician for film and television scores (having performed on hundreds of scores) and with popular artists, having recorded with Shirley Horn, Gerald Albright, Mariah Carey, Fiona Apple, Michael Feinstein, and many others. Kent is featured on several albums of the music of composer Sasha Matson on the Audioquest and New Albion labels.

Robin Lorentz (violin) has been a featured violinist on tour with composers Terry Riley and John Luther Adams and a member of the noted new music ensemble California E.A.R. Unit since 1984. She is a featured performer in the Santa Fe Pro Musica and has served as concertmaster on the LA Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series and at the Ojai Festival. She gave the world premiere of John Adams’s Road Movies at the Kennedy Center and the premiere of Virko Baley’s Kolimayaka, a Dance for solo violin at Carnegie Hall. An accomplished arranger and composer as well as a versatile instrumentalist, Robin’s solo violin playing has been featured in such motion pictures as Other People’s Money and Back To The Future III and the television series Northern Exposure. She has recorded for New Albion, Cold Blue, New World, O.O.Discs, Sony, MCA, Columbia, Echograph, and Glenfinnian Records. Ms. Lorentz co-wrote with composer Eve Beglarian and performed a series of Stephen King audio books for Penguin Publishing. She has served on the faculty at the California Institute of the Arts. 

Maria Newman (viola), a violinist/violist/composer, is the youngest daughter of famed film composer Alfred Newman. She received her formal training at the Eastman School of Music and Yale University. A champion of the music of Miklos Rozsa, she made the world premiere recording of his Viola Concerto with the Nuremberg Symphony and gave the American premiere of his 1928 Violin Concerto. Newman is a founding member of the award-winning Viklarbo Chamber Ensemble, and she has recorded for the Varese Sarabande, Audioquest, Bay Cities, Colosseum, Celestial Harmonies, and Raptoria Caam labels. She is a much-in-demand violinist/violist in Los Angeles studios, where she has performed on innumerable film and TV scores. As a prolific concert composer, she has received many commissions and awards, including five consecutive annual ASCAP Awards and two Composers Guild Awards.

Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick (cello) is an active soloist, chamber musician, and specialist in contemporary music. She has performed world and local premieres of solo and chamber works throughout the United States and Europe, including the L.A. Olympic Festival, the Computer Music Festival in Zurich, the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and the San Francisco Symphony “New and Unusual Music” series. She recently recorded Elliott Carter’s Enchanted Preludes, a work written for her and flutist Dorothy Stone. She has toured with Joan LaBarbara and Morton Subotnick since 1981, and Jacob’s Room (on Wergo Records) marks her fourth appearance in recordings of Subotnick’s music. Among the many other composers who’ve written works for her are Mel Powell, Alvin Lucier, and Michael Jon Fink. She is a founding member of the California E.A.R. Unit, a Los Angeles-based new music ensemble, with which she tours throughout the United States and Europe. She has also given master classes and recitals under the auspices of the U.S.I.A. “Arts America” Program in Central and South America. Ms. Kirkpatrick has recorded for the Nonesuch, Wergo, New Albion, Voyager, and Cold Blue labels.


“With its slow, interlocking suspensions and white-note harmonies, Tigres brings to mind Sibelius, of all things—particularly the twilight pages of the Sixth and Seventh symphonies—with the exception of a contrasting section about six minutes in where the rhythmic intensity gets cranked up and the piece breaks into a manic Michael Nymanesque jitterbug…. But the jitterbug ends just a quickly as it began, ceding to a much more lyrical style that gives a prominent, concerto-like roll to the clarinet. If Lentz talked about some of his earlier cascading echo pieces as ‘spiralling forms of becoming,’ Tigres traces—with its expressive grand pauses—a more improvisational line of fragmentation…. By intriguing his listeners at the same time he wreathes them in smiles, Lentz always comes up with something listenable and worthwhile. That’s certainly true of this new release.” — Arved Ashby, Gramophone

“Daniel Lentz offers the most sonically dense music of the four discs [CB0015–18]. Clarinet, violin, viola and cello, combine forces with all manner of electronic keyboard sound, including quite a bit of harp and brass, to convey music of near orchestral force and scope.” —Molly Sheridan, NewMusicBox (American Music Center)

“It is a precious suite which fluctuates between melodic classical music and new instrumental music. There also are some touches of minimalism.”Amazing Sounds (Spain)

“After pressing the ‘Play’ button, one is immediately immersed in a beautiful landscape—perhaps it’s spring, perhaps it’s the dawn – although it seems likely that the landscape is on Mars, not on Earth. The ‘Lever du jour’ from Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé might have been Lentz’s model. In time, Marty Walker’s clarinet emerges from the softly swirling mass of sound. And then—surprise!—the tempo picks up, and one finds oneself in the middle of a Martian bacchanale. This doesn’t last long however, and Los Tigres de Marte wends its way to an end with the clarinet singing a rapturous solo over a warm backdrop of strings and electronics.” —Raymond Tuttle, ClassicalNet

“Daniel Lentz’s work, with its sparkle and pulse, has long evinced hallmarks of the minimalist style. But Lentz has often brought a glossy, Pop Art-Southern California palette of colors to his work. Los Tigres de Marte is in many ways a brief clarinet concerto for the tonal virtuosity of Marty Walker…. With its unashamed melodic richness unfolding within an alternation of passages both sun-streaked and shadowed, Los Tigres de Marte is an engaging and powerful work that seems to reveal new facets with each encounter.” — Kevin Macneil Brown, Dusted

“Suffused with memories that seem to include Smetana and Delius, the piece is a fabric of rich harmonies and textures, passed under the ‘distorting’ lens of contemporary musical sensibility.” —Christopher Ballantine, Int’l Record Review (UK)

Los Tigres de Marte mutates dizzyingly through multiple keys and stylistic episodes: Debussyesque one moment, Glass-like another, with aggressively stormy moments offset by harp-flavoured interludes of delicate languor. It’s a concerto of sorts for Marty Walker with his clarinet enveloped by glissandi strings and electronic choirs, bells and assorted other percussion.” —Ron Schepper, Textura and Stylus

Los Tigres de Marte is indeed a powerful, exhilarating and bright composition, which tends to ravish rather than lull you. Lentz himself talks of ‘tight clusters, glissandi, and even some bebop-driven rhythms.’ Quite a beautiful work.” —Eugenio Maggi, ChainD.L.K. (Italy)

“Beautifully recorded music with suitably artistic packaging…. Los Tigres de Marte is more melodic and complex, with elements that seem to draw from Philip Glass, Gershwin and Zappa…. [T]his is definitely music worth spending time with.” —Randy Raine-Reusch, MusicWorks (Canada)

“Daniel Lentz forever has my vote as the greatest ‘new music’ composer…. Los Tigres is a truly unforced and uplifting achievement! Something whose fresh, invigorating impulse could repeat over and over only to be experienced anew each listen…an unequivocally recommended miniature.” —Exposé

“The orchestral temperament of this music is soothing and congenial, with strings waxing cerebral in conjunction with atmospheric electronics. After a while, the music takes a more lively turn, exploring fanciful melodies that maintain an airy-but-insistent bearing. Piano emerges to guide the tune into its concert hall finale. The clarinet achieves a high-altitude winsome manner that is excellently elaborated by the airy strings, producing music that spills from a mountain peak to entertain all surrounding valleys.” —Sonic Curiosity

“This is a particularly enjoyable work that demonstrates special attention to the act of composition.”altriSuoni (Italy)

“A capricious, Disney-esque fantasia, beconing to be opened endlessly….featuring puzzling but well-resolved contradictions.… Bursts of energetic keyboard exuberance evolve constantly into masses of glissandi, juxtaposing fragments of melody with brittle lateral immobility. Lentz’s music proves to be quite labyrinthine and filled with a vigorous sensuality.” —ei magazine

“Surfacing only infrequently on disc since the heyday of minimalism in the 1980s, Daniel Lentz contributed this lush, beautiful, mostly electronic tone poem to Cold Blue Music’s enterprising CD-single series in 2004. Opening with a sheen of pitch-drifting electronic sound, the 15-minute piece soon becomes an elegy for Marty Walker’s sometimes-arpeggiated clarinet and a mixture of acoustic and electronic strings, simulated chimes, and other digitally-created sounds. Except for a minute-long outburst of Lentz’s more typical motor rhythms mid-way through the piece, all is peaceful and highly romantic in mood and texture, with only a hint of unease in the harmonies. Though perhaps intended as ambient music, Lentz’s piece offers more for the attentive listener than most in this genre.” — Richard S. Ginell, All-Music Guide