Since studying at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music with John White, Martin has enjoyed a wide ranging career as quartet player, soloist and teacher.
As a member of the internationally renowned Maggini Quartet he has played throughout Europe, North America and the Far East. With the Quartet and other groups he has recorded more than forty discs and has won major prizes including the Gramophone Award and the Diapason d’Or. In 2009 he won the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Chamber Music as a member of the Britten Sinfonia Soloists Ensemble.
Martin appears frequently as a soloist. His repertoire embraces the major works for viola. His programmes often include rarely heard pieces, particularly by British composers and several works have been written for him, including concertos by Adam Gorb and David Gow. Since making his Royal Festival Hall concerto debut with the London Mozart Players, notable solo appearances have included the broadcast premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s Strathclyde Concerto No.5 with the composer conducting and the first concert performance of Britten’s Portrait No.2 in London and on tour with Martyn Brabbins and Sinfonia 21 in Russia. He was the soloist in rare performances of the Maconchy Romanza with the Ambache Chamber Orchestra and the Dale Romance with Vernon Handley conducting.
Martin gives duo recitals with Julian Rolton. Together they have performed widely throughout the UK and have recorded several times for Naxos and Nimbus. Their performances have included recitals at many Lionel Tertis International Viola Competitions and International Viola Congresses. Martin served on the jury for the 2003 Tertis Competition and is a member of this competition’s Executive Committee.
His recordings for Naxos of all the music for viola and piano by Bax plus a disc of English Viola Sonatas with Julian Rolton received wide critical acclaim, including a 5-star review in the BBC Music The Scottish Viola: a tribute to Watson Forbes was released on the Nimbus label in 2012 and a disc of the viola music of Benjamin Britten and Frank Bridge was released in 2014, also on Nimbus, to great acclaim.
Martin is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, where he has been a professor since 1984. He is also an Honorary Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University and an Honorary Fellow of Brunel University. He plays on a very fine viola made by Henricus Catenar in Turin in 1680.
As a member of the Maggini Quartet, Martin has recorded over forty discs of twentieth-century British string quartet repertoire, including the cycle of ten Naxos quartets by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. This has extended to the commissioning of other new music, notably works by Robert Simpson, James MacMillan, Eleanor Alberga, Roxanna Panufnik and Stuart MacRae. He has a particular interest in the chamber music of Frank Bridge and has researched Bridge’s professional career as a violist.
As a soloist, he has performed and recorded much neglected repertoire. His recordings of English Viola Sonatas and all the viola music of Bax for Naxos prompted wide international critical acclaim. Interested in all aspects of the viola and its literature, his particular focus is on the legacy of works connected to the great English violist Lionel Tertis, but he has also researched original European nineteenth-century pedagogic material for the instrument and lectured on the viola music of York Bowen and Benjamin Britten.
Other solo recordings include a disc that explored the legacy associated with the Scottish violist and former Academy professor Watson Forbes and another presented the works for viola and piano by Frank Bridge and Benjamin Britten. He also commissions new music and Stuart MacRae wrote a work for solo viola and chamber ensemble for him.
His arrangements and editions of works by Delius, Britten, Ireland and Tertis are published by Boosey and Hawkes, Chesters, Stainer and Bell and Comus. Recent recordings (in addition to the viola discs mentioned above) have included the complete string quartets of Edmund Rubbra, William Alwyn, Lennox Berkeley, Ronald Corp and Felix Mendelssohn.