John McDonald: At All Device
David Holzman, piano

$ 14.99

This recording chronicles the growth and development of a deep friendship between pianist David Holzman and composer John McDonald. Over the course of two decades, the two have developed a deep understanding and appreciation of each other personally and professionally. Writing about the relationship, David Holzman says:

I have known John McDonald for almost two decades. At first, he was a generous colleague, joining with Joel Gordon to help bring many of my cd’s into existence—providing the space to record at Tufts University, editing, and a stayover at his house for these multi-day events. By the second such event, he was already becoming a friend and soon a close and trusted friend.

I began to know him as a composer about a decade ago, when I began to ask for, and receive, unbidden, compositions—all colorful characterstucke clearly written by one pianist for another. It was only two years ago, when I started to work on this cd, that I began to fully grasp the variety and complexity of his works. And only after the two-year journey of learning, performing and recording was complete did I have the pleasure of seeing John’s personality reflected in his music.

The earlier works in this recording capture Holzman's physical approach to the piano, with intense involvement of arm and shoulder. The more recent works were written as Holzman was struggling to perform while using hearing devices.



“McDonald is close to pianist David Holzman and has written some of these works specifically for him. One is Three-Parter, which manages to squeeze its three sections, almost movements, into less than four minutes. It is a gentle and lovely piece. Another work written for Holzman is Digital Dance Fetish: An African Allegro, a score demanding great virtuosity and marked by obsessive repetition….A disc containing 17 short pieces, only one longer than four minutes, must provide a variety of mood, color, and tempo in order to hold the listener’s attention. McDonald’s music and Holzman’s sympathetic performances combine to do that.” – Fanfare, April 30, 2020

"McDonald has carved out a place for himself in the field that is defined by the craft, sincerity, and integrity of his voice and vision. If there is any composer of whom he reminds me (and I’ve said this earlier), it’s György Kurtág—for the jeweled economy of the pieces, their Modernist intensity, and their focus on the piano. And from me, that’s high praise indeed..." - Robert Carl, Fanfare

"The recorded sound is first-rate, recreating the atmosphere of hearing these works in a smaller room, perhaps at a gathering of the composer and his friends. As I mentioned, McDonald’s (and Holzman’s) liner notes are engaging, informative, and often quite touching. To be sure, this recital will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But I think the music-making by both composer and interpreter are of a very high level, indeed. Recommended to the somewhat adventurous." - Ken Meltzer, Fanfare


Something Bold to Start With, Op. 541, No. 64 (2014)

Nervous Waiting (Tetradactyllic), Op. 455, No. 23 (2010)

You Don't Love Me, Op. 446, No. 12 (2009)

Three-Parter, Op. 455, No. 102 (2010/2011)

Variants On Jim Wilson's Lanterne Melody 1, Op. 455, No. 28 (2010)

Epicede for Louise Bourgeois, Op. 455, No. 38 (2010)

Poco "Harsh," Poco "Nice," Op. 455, No. 74 (2010)

Digital Dance Fetish: An African Allegro, Op. 455 No. 118 (2010/2011)

Lento Appassionato for David Holzman, Op. 475, No. 163 (2011)

Monet's Anguish, Op. 420, No. 49 (2006)

Moonesinghe Obsequy, Op. 388 (2002-2003)

To Play With No Devices, Op. 592, No. 59 (2016)

Berceuse To Play With Two Devices, Op. 592, No. 101 (2016-2017)

Forthright Wednesday Poem Composed After hearing Palestinian Notebook (As Recorded By D. Holzman), Op. 475, No. 212 (2011)

Held Dear, Op. 614, No. 7 (2017)

Offering in Tribute, Op. 420, No. 6 (2006)

Deep Disappointment, Op. 614, No. 2 (2017)


David Holzman, piano