Songs of Martin Hennessy, the disc’s insightful pianist…overflow with poignant and dramatic splendor.
— Cleveland Plain Dealer
Hennessy handles Rorem’s difficult piano writing with brilliance and also writes creative, improvisatory, and moving songs.
— American Record Guide
In the Stillness, a love lyric to Hennessy’s own verse, is particularly attractive.
— Patrick J. Smith, Opera News
These men mean business when it comes to song-writing, and it’s comforting to know that the American art song is in good hands other than just those of Ned Rorem’s…Hennessy’s …settings are deliciously odd, with the insouciance in ‘You Get to Gilead’ reminding me of parts of Davies’s Eight Songs for a Mad King, but comic, and without the grunts and shrieks. The clarinet swings. The vocalise at the end of ‘Of the Natural World’ after the line ‘and I grow impatient and practice the world’s song”, is structurally and practically brilliant…Buy this record.
— American Record Guide
The composer is a prominent collaborative pianist himself; he knows the piano, the voice, and poetry, but songwriting is also a gift, and he has it. ''Echo's Song," famous in a setting by Dowland, was his particularly personal and poignant response to Sept. 11.
— Richard Dyer The Boston Globe
Contrary to several other contemporary compositions based on my work, I found your setting to be sensitive to the subtleties of the text in a way that intensifies the intermingling of meaning (story, word) with form (rhythm, silence). The result is Real Music: A song that lives its story, a story that sings. I feel gratified, exalted, and exulted. Thank you! Please accept my undiluted thanks for giving 'The Secret Garden' a musical magic carpet.
— Rita Dove (Pulitzer Prize winning poet)
One of Hennessy’s great strengths as a song composer is his understanding both of word stressing and the inner rhythms of their meaning... The vocal line of these songs is always melodic and grateful to sing…. This cycle would be a wonderful centerpiece for a graduate level or professional recital sung by a soprano with a warm and ample sound.
— Judith Carman, Journal of Singing
What a unique opera! (A Letter to East 11th Street)
— Ned Rorem
Skillful and well-crafted
— Ned Rorem (Ben Jonson Songs)
Comments from audience members after various Martin Hennessy is dead! concerts:
Nights like that - and the feeling of connection they give me to a living creative community - are the reason I stay in New York.
You’re the Frank O’Hara of composers! Just brilliant!
What a fine, satisfying evening full of invention, smiles, thought and genuine musicality!
Congratulations on a great show. My favorite song was the setting of the Weinstein lyric which is very elegant.
It was truly a pleasure to hear the range of your work… I especially enjoyed the two arias from A Letter to East 11th Street and the pieces for cello.