Classical Caber: Piano Miniature No. 2, “Reveur”

If you’ve seen my Facebook page lately, you’ll know that I just finished my taxes. As anyone who’s self-employed will tell you, corralling all the necessary information for your tax return is a very stressful experience. Dirk once collected 37 W-2s and 1099s in a single year! This year I ended up with a nice refund, a sizable headache, and a dire need to relax.

Thank goodness for my hubby Dirk’s music. He’s in Orlando this weekend filming a scene for Bound Muscle, but listening to his Piano Miniatures gave me the release I needed to put the stressful afternoon behind me. Here’s one of my favorites of the bunch, his Piano Miniature No. 2, “Reveur” (meaning “Dreamy”):“Reveur” is the second in a series of 24 miniatures, none longer than 3 minutes. Dirk describes the piece as follows:

openquoteNo. 2 is principally built around the harmonies. The game was making as many harmonies as possible using as many unchanging notes, particularly the bottom note in those chords, as possible. The tune uses a similar idea, meandering a little further away each time but generally returning to the same notes at the pauses in the phrases.”

Twelve of Dirk’s miniatures have already been recorded; we are hoping to eventually raise sufficient funds to record the remaining twelve and release them all as an album. We’re considering starting a Kickstarter campaign, actually… more on that in a bit. In the meantime, I’m thrilled to report that the final hurdle in releasing Dirk’s music on iTunes has finally been cleared; watch for an official announcement very soon! (You can use the “Subscribe to My Blog” option on the right side of this page to be notified of any new posts, by the way.)

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!

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

Classical Caber: “Eclogue No. 6”

As I’ve written about recently, my husband Dirk has an amazing talent for composing classical music. I’m biased, of course… but listen for yourself. I’ve already shared a few of his efforts, but the one I’m posting today is the lushest I’ve shared so far. It’s an eclogue, a form of pastoral music that presents an original theme and then explores different variations of that theme. He’s written a number of them, but Eclogue No. 6 is my favorite. Dirk explains his inspiration for the piece as follows:

openquote
The Eclogues were experiments in orchestration for me, each using a particular variation on a chamber orchestra of not more than 24 or 25 players. Each was also based loosely on a literary source, usually a poem. Eclogue No. 6 draws on a verse by the 16th century English poet and composer Thomas Whythorne:

As thy shadow itself apply’th
To follow thee whereso thou go,
And when thou bends, itself it wry’th,
Turning as thou both to and fro:
The flatterer doth even so,
And shopes himself the same to gloze,
With many a fawning and gay show,
Whom he would frame for his purpose.

Whythorne’s poem talks about imitation which, despite often being a wan copy, is still the sincerest form of flattery. Musically, this suggests to me an original theme that spawns a myriad of subsequent variations. Eclogue No. 6 is an attempt to set this concept in a musical form that mimics a style of dance called a “sicilienne” which was common in Whythorne’s time.

I find this piece absolutely enchanting. Every single time I listen, I start crying by the end. You might cry too, so when you listen, be prepared for waterworks!

As I wrote last week in my post “Every Rose Has Its Porn,” while Dirk has a supreme gift for writing music, right now he’s really struggling. The move to Boston has proved especially challenging for him, as he’s had to uproot himself from the classical music scenes in New York and Chicago — where he once lived — and start afresh in Boston. He’s having trouble finding work, and is getting really discouraged; Boston’s scene is well-established and difficult to break into. His creative output is a fraction of what it once was, and it kills me to think that his sublime talent might even be silenced. I’m thinking of launching a Kickstarter campaign to help him afford to produce an album, and we’re also exploring the possibility of making his work available on iTunes. In the meantime, though, here’s a simple way you can support him: Share his music. Send it to your friends. Even if they’re not porn fans, you can share his SoundCloud page with them, which has many examples of his work… I’ve even made it simple for you… just click here to post a link to it on your Facebook wall. Let the world hear the beauty that my husband has to offer. Once word gets out about his talent, maybe the tide will start to turn in his favor.

You can listen to more of Dirk’s music at http://soundcloud.com/dirkcaber, and for Dirk’s own take on his musical influences, you can read the blog post he wrote entitled “Musing on My Muses.”

Thank you.

English Court Dance

Dirk Goes Down… East

As you may already know, my hubby Dirk is an accomplished classical musician. He plays tuba, he sings (low bass, of course!), and he labels himself a badly-out-of-practice piano player… though I’m not so sure I agree with that last assessment. And he also writes some stunningly beautiful music. He’s already shared some of his compositions on his SoundCloud page, but here’s a new one… the Mount Desert Island Suite, written about the island home of Acadia National Park in Maine. In Dirk’s words:

openquoteThe MDI Suite was written by commission for the sadly now defunct Penobscot Bay Chamber Music Festival in Bar Harbor, Maine. The music is simpler than much of what I write, partly because I anticipated very little rehearsal time and I wanted something easy for busy musicians to grasp. The four movements reflect four quatrains of a poem by Cora Millay (mother of Edna St. Vincent Millay) reflecting on different aspects of Mount Desert Island in her home state of Maine; the first depicts the gulls wheeling over the rocks and spray at the coast; the second, the owls in the quiet old-growth pine forests. This third is of sandpipers dodging the ripples on the sand at the water’s edge, and the last conveys the bustle of downtown Bar Harbor. This piece remains close to my heart as an impression of the sort of Maine coastline I grew up on and which is still home to me in many ways.”

I’ve shared Dirk’s third movement, Beach and Sandpipers — my personal favorite — at the top of this post. Every Monday for the next three weeks I’ll be introducing another of Dirk’s works; hopefully it’ll help brighten the start of your work week. Dirk and I hope you enjoy them!

By the way, “Down East” (referred to in the title of this blog post) is a common nickname for Maine. You can read about the history of the term here.
 
sandpiper_beach