Notice: This is a digital rendering until a much needed live recording becomes available.
(Sound samples: Joshua Bell Violin and Vienna Symphonic Library's Violin, Viola and Cello)
Images from my childhood / A children's drawing
For all 7-year olds in the world, big and small.
>From the familiy archives my brother Ernie recently dug up this photo taken in 1955. It evokes in me a strong childhood memory and it reminds me of the drawing I made at the time (forever lost) of the kittens in the tree.
I was 7 and we had just moved into a big new house with a sprawling backyard and even our own tiny forest. I remember that pathetic apple tree behind the house very well. Looking at it I can still remember the thrill of having started a new life in our little paradise. Capturing that in music is next to impossible but nevertheless worth trying: redrawing the scene so to speak, this time in notes and me being ten times older now.
The first part with its simple theme is reminiscent of a nursery song expressing the ignorance of these furry softballs, oblivious of any peril. I titled it ironically, "Life in the apple tree is not complicated". The second movement, "The kittens have no fear at all", reflects also on myself: the easily excited naive youngsters at that age. The third movement is shaping itself in my head and I hope to be able to write it soon (and there might be a forth). - Anyway, enjoy this preview!
Notice: This is a digital rendering until a live recording becomes available.
(Sound samples: Joshua Bell Violin and Vienna Symphonic Library's Viola)
This duet starts out with a classic theme in B-flat minor, - after about two minutes transitioning into the main segment: a slightly atonal and a mostly dissonant back-and-forth between the two players followed by a brief variation on the opening theme leading up to the Ennio Morricone tribute starting at around 5:50 minutes.
The beloved Italian composer Ennio Morricone wrote over 400 film scores in a vast variety of styles in addition to 100+ classical works. Most impressive and memorable for me as a young man were the soundtracks for the so-called "spaghetti-westerns" evoking so effectively and suspenseful the loneliness of the desert.
Morricone passed away July 7, 2020 and I listened to a few of his most famous compositions once again with great joy!
The six movements are loosely related and most of them (especially III, IV and V) could be played on their own outside of the suite. VI should be fun as an encore; as the finale, it is a lighthearted scherzo kind of thing. However the order in which they appear in this suite is quite deliberate. In general the pieces have a percussive feel to them and rarely venture into the realm of romanticism. They are not per sé modern music either, even though dissonants occur regularly. "Carré" reminds of pop and it swings a little; part IV builds unmistakably on a classic foundation. This piece, "Sur tes orteils" ("On your toes") is a bit of an outlier and, as the title suggests, rather suited for ballet (see music video on YouTube).
Inspired by Jacques Brels's "La Chanson Des Vieux Amants"
Recorded at the Corthell Hall, USM School of Music, November 26, 2019 (Thank you, Lori!)
Performers: Josie DiPhilippo, Piano and Aaron Emerson, Oboe
For this duet, specifically written for the gifted oboist Aaron Emerson, I borrowed three significant quotes from the song as my inspiration for, and the interpretation of the subject matter as I finally came to see it. The quotes serve as the titles of the movements.
I. Chambre Sans Berceau (Room without crib)The relationship between two people-in-love is challenged and tested, causing anguish and friction, when their marriage remains childless. Blame and guilt slowly drives a wedge between them, despite attempts to hang on to their committed love.
II. Éclats Des Vieilles Tempêtes (Shards of old storms)After twenty years the echos of raging old storms are still audible and shards of broken dreams still visible in the corners of that room. But every now and then, when the taste for fighting is lost, a clear and hopeful tune can be heard ringing throughout the house.
III. Je t'aime Encore, Tu Sais, Je t'aime (I still love you, you know, I love you)Despite decades of resentment, neglect and infidelities, in the end the love survives; though un-passionate and non-exuberant, as a given it persists, pure and simple, as on the beat of a slow, never-ending three-step dance between two kindred souls.
Download the full score