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Classical Caber: Cuban Dance No. 1, “Valszante”


 
It’s Classical Caber Monday… on a Sunday! I was a day late getting the flute sonata to you guys last week, so I thought I’d make it up to you by being a day early this week. Here’s my hubby Dirk’s brooding-yet-playful Cuban Dance No. 1, “Valszante” (or “waltz-like”), the first in a series of pieces he calls the Danzas Cubanas:

openquoteThe Cuban Dances were written for Eddie Frigola, a rather awesome clarinetist I met my first couple days playing with the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps in NYC. He was sexy (still is!) and smart (Harvard!) and astonishingly innocent. We had a highly memorable torrid week-long affair before he left for Madrid to resume his post-grad studies. At one point during that week we sat down to play, me at the piano and he with his clarinet, and somehow we discovered ourselves improvising a habañera. He told me about the guajira, a dance form I’d not heard of before. The seed was planted, and maybe four years later, now living in Los Angeles, he received a copy of his Danzas Cubanas.

On a related note… Dirk and I are working with a digital distribution service called CD Baby to make his music available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, and a number of other digital providers. We just have a couple of “t”s and “i”s to cross and dot, and then we’ll be ready. Watch for the official announcement soon!

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Classical Caber: “Sonata for Flute and Piano”

Like any artist, Dirk’s style has changed over time as his skills have grown and matured. The pieces I’ve posted so far have been some of Dirk’s older works; his rag, for example, dates back to when he was 16, and the Mount Desert Island Suite is already about 12 years old. In fact, just last week Dirk asked me why I was posting his older stuff. “I want people to hear what my style sounds like now,” he explained. With that in mind, I’m happy to share with you the 4th movement of his Sonata for Flute and Piano, completed in 2011. Here is Dirk’s take on piece:

openquoteThe Sonata for Flute and Piano started off as sketches for a much smaller, simpler piece I wanted to be able to play with my boyfriend at the time, who played flute. Those first notes, written in spring of 2003, are still there, now the beginning of the third movement of four. This piece has one of the longest gestations of anything I’ve written, started in 2003 and not finished until 2011. In that time it completely changed in scope and difficulty, now well over twenty minutes long and challenging to even expert flautists and pianists. The second movement in particular is one of the thorniest thickets I’ve ever asked two musicians to machete their way through. This fourth movement was meant as the foil for all the angst that precedes it. More playful and lighthearted, it ends a rather turbulent piece with a little smile.”

Perhaps down the road I’ll post the other three movements of the Sonata, or Dirk might even release it on iTunes. (I’m happy to say we’re making some good progress with getting that set up.) But for now, please enjoy the 4th movement. Dirk and I hope it puts a little smile on your face too!

Dirk at his parents' piano, Thanksgiving 2013

Dirk at his parents’ piano, Thanksgiving 2013

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“COLT” comfort

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So last summer, as Dirk was unpacking boxes after the big move, a particular tank top of his caught my eye; it said “PRIZE BULL — THICK CUT BEEF” on it. “I don’t remember where I got it,” Dirk said. “It just kinda appeared one day. You want it?” It had a faded stain of some sort on the front of it, but otherwise it was awesome… and it fit me, which is rare because Dirk’s shirts are usually too small. I eagerly accepted my hubby’s gift. It’s since become one of my favorite tank tops; it’s super comfortable, plus people say I look hot in it… and who am I to argue?

Fast forward a few months. Dirk and I were in San Francisco for the 2013 Folsom Street Fair, and gone out to dinner in the Castro with our good friends Dolan Wolf and Kristofer Weston. (Kristofer, as you may know, is the lead director at COLT Studio Group.) Anyway, as we’re all sitting around the table enjoying our bulgogi beef and ok-dol bibimbap, Kristofer starts eyeing the tank top I was wearing… the very one Dirk had given me.

“I used to have a shirt just like that,” Kristofer observed.

“Really?” I replied.

“Yeah… in fact it had an oil stain on the front of it, just like yours does. Where did you get that?”

At that point, Dirk turned beet red. “Oops,” he said. “I must have grabbed it by mistake when I was out there filming Fur Mountain!” Apparently my hubby had been in a bit of a hurry to catch a flight back home, and had shoved what he thought was a pile of his dirty laundry into his suitcase. As it turns out, a certain tank top belonging to a certain director had been in that pile as well. Oops, indeed! Very generously, Kristofer let me keep it… and I still wear it all the time.

So hey, Kristofer, if you’re reading this… I wanna buy you a new tank top. It’s the least I can do for letting me keep such an awesome gift.

The oil stain, of course, is optional.
 

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Dolan Wolf, Kristofer Weston, me, and Dirk in 2013 during Folsom Street Fair weekend. Check out my tank top!