In many ways, chamber music is more about musicians enjoying a good musical conversation than it is about performing for an audience. The small number of players makes it possible to compose music that lets each individual musician inhabit his or her "role," as if engaging in a dialogue or soliloquy in a play or film scene.
I’ve always wanted to set some poems by my friend L.S. Klatt, so I chose five from a recent collection, Sunshine Wound, where he frequently invokes the work of painters he admires. Rather than merely alluding to their themes and images, he transplants them, so that in the new soil of the poems, they might bloom again and cross-pollinate. As in any painting, trying to interpret single images doesn’t work as well as stepping back a few steps and letting them collect together to create some larger impression. Here, it seems that themes of vulnerability often emerge, at least in the ones I’ve set.
So I wondered what might happen if I brought a marimba into Klatt’s garden? After all, I’d been lugging one around ever since the mallet virtuoso Marc Wooldridge asked me to write something fun for marimba. The wooden earthiness of the marimba’s sound, together with the raw earthiness of so many of Klatt’s images led me to ask the vocalist to intone rather than give the words flight as full-fledged songs, emulating the way that all poets “sing” whenever they read aloud. I’ve always been intrigued by this imploring, often playful, enchanting music that poets make, and have tried to capture some of that energy here.
Beauty Marks was commissioned by Marc Wooldridge. This performance is by Matthew Beck on marimba with Chad Dykema doing the Sprechtstimme.
This 5-movement work is to be performed without pause. Though if you listen all the way through, you'll wish that it were performed without "paws." The performers here are the Lydian String Quartet.
Commissioned by members of Ensemble Montage, this through-compsed work begins
in a whirl of activity, and gradually sorts its way through to a more fervent mode of meditation.