The Amadeus Affair

Mozart’s no spring chicken — he’s turning 260 this month! — but his work retains a youthful freshness everyone can enjoy (and envy…). I’ve concocted a youthful cocktail to swig alongside the Big Bad Wolfie’s most effervescent music. (We’ll drown our sorrows in the the D-minor Piano Concerto and the Requiem another day…) 

The drink is several years and many tipsy evenings in the making. In fact, we originally intended to pair the drink recipe with the release of our album, An Amadeus Affair. But just as playing Mozart’s music takes years of refinement, so does crafting the perfect tipple to compliment his sonic whirl of intrigue, scandal, exhilaration, and mischief. 

I drew inspiration from the following quotes while rustling up the ingredients for “The Amadeus Affair”:

“Mozart is happiness before it has gotten defined.”
     — Arthur Miller

Happiness = effervescence & sparkle = sugar & soda water!
 

“Does it not seem as if Mozart’s works become fresher and fresher the oftener we hear them?”
     — Robert Schumann 

A perky and fresh spring day = tarragon, with its licorice-like, peppery scent. (Besides, is it just me, or does tarragon scream, “MOZART!?")
 

“When you play Mozart, it’s so clean, it’s so simple. It’s the body naked.”
     — Gustavo Dudamel 

Cleanliness = lemon; see the article “24 things you can clean with a lemon” for evidence.
 

“An astonishing number of kisses are flying about! I see a whole crowd of them. Ha! Ha! I have just caught three — they are delicious… I kiss you millions of times.”
     — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to his wife Constanza 

In all forms of art, romance and love are often symbolized by flowers. Gin is the most floral spirit, and elderflower is the most intoxicating of scents… yum!
 

To tie it all together, I added two drops of absinthe to account for Mozart’s token dash of the unexpected, his latent wild side. (Speaking of which, click here for an NSFW link showcasing the true extent of Mozart’s wild side.)

 

Below, please find what I believe to be the most pleasing, balanced, and Mozartian combination of the ingredients.

THE AMADEUS AFFAIR

In a cocktail shaker, start with:

  • 1-2 sprigs tarragon
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

Muddle, then add:

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 1 ⅓ oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • ⅔ oz fresh lemon juice (I use Meyer lemons)
  • 2 drops absinthe

Add ice to the cocktail shaker, shake, and strain into a tall glass filled halfway with ice. Then add:

  • 2 ounces soda water

Stir. Once complete, sit back and enjoy "The Amadeus Affair" with this sparkling track from our album An Amadeus Affair. :-)

Brahms Double Concerto Premiere

During our visit to beautiful, snowy Santa Fe this past Christmas Eve, we were excited to premiere a work that has been years in the making: Brahms' Double Concerto in our arrangement for two pianos and orchestra. We were fortunate to perform the work with the Performance Santa Fe Symphony under the direction of maestro Joseph Illick, whose boundless positivity and supreme flexibility made the premiere a joyous success. 

Brahms often struggled with instrumentation when composing. For example, he morphed his string quintet into a two piano sonata before finally settling on its final form: a piano quintet. Similarly, the first piano concerto began as a sonata for piano, four hands. But regardless of his music's instrumentation, one gets the sense that he conceived at the piano, especially given how many of his works he ultimately arranged for piano duo and duet. In fact, Brahms arranged nearly every piece he wrote for the genre — see Christian Köhn and Silke-Thora Matthies’s complete 18-disc set of Brahms' piano duo music for evidence. 

With the Double Concerto, the solo violin and cello lines translated themselves idiomatically to the piano. We were further delighted by the number of similarities between this concerto and his two solo piano concertos, which we ultimately highlighted in the arrangement itself. The pieces feels as if we're performing a big, Romantic Brahms piano concerto, but with the added dialogue of a double concerto. And suitably, the piece's biographical subtext remains firmly in place (the piece was composed as something of a reconciliation plea to violinist Joseph Joachim); the piece now serves as a universal statement of pain, forgiveness, and friendship.

In this committed unveiling, it came across as an effective concert work, a useful addition to the regrettably small repertoire of concertos for two pianos and orchestra.
— Santa Fe New Mexican

"Saturday Night Waltz"

We're proud to announce our latest music video: "Saturday Night Waltz" from Aaron Copland's Rodeo!

The film shoot itself was simultaneously technological yet "rustic." We relished the pastoral setting: 4:30am wake up calls, the barn with its ethereal early-morning light, the accompaniment of the roosters, and the delicious meals prepared from food grown on the farm (but not the chickens — we're both vegetarian!). But perhaps the highlight was working with a video drone... our first experience with quadcopters proved to be both rewarding and challenging as our drone operator may or may not have crashed the device while filming, leaving us with precious few ariel shots to work with!

Many thanks to everyone at the Olympic Music Festival for their assistance and support, and happy 115th birthday to Aaron Copland!