The Rachmaninoff Heartbreak

Musical Mixology is back to celebrate the lush beauty of early summer with our latest cocktail, The Rachmaninoff Heartbreak. We crafted this deeply romantic drink, in part, to celebrate the release of our latest music video, "The Night... The Love..." as well as the appearance of Rachmaninoff's gorgeous Suite No. 1 for Two Pianos on our latest album, Mother.

Pinot noir (the heartbreak grape), chocolate, apricots, and cognac come together to create this earthy and sensual drink worthy of Rachmaninoff’s romanticism. The drink is less dessert-like than the ingredient list may suggest; it's lightly sweet, juicy, smoky, and totally luxurious — perfect to pair with Rachmaninoff's sumptuous harmonies and passionate lyricism. One sip of this delightful craft concoction will send you drifting on the evening breeze like night-blooming jasmine. Drink up and get lost in:

THE RACHMANINOFF HEARTBREAK

Adapted from "Chocolate Wine" from Ryan Chetiyanwardana's Good Things to Drink
Yield: 6-7 drinks

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle pinot noir (earthy, fruit forward, not too tannic)
  • 6 oz cognac
  • 0.5 oz peaty single-malt scotch (lower-end, like Laphroaig, is fine)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar (just less than 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 5 dried apricots
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Stir ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl
  • Cover and heat on high power in the microwave for 3 minutes (I’ve tried cooking this over a stovetop, but the flavors infused better in the microwave.) 
  • Allow to cool, then strain (Keep the apricots to serve as small hors d’oeuvres with the drink. So good!)
  • Refrigerate until cold
  • Serve in a wine glass with 2-3 cubes of ice

Helpful hint: I've made this cocktail several times and much prefer to use softer dried apricots over those that are chewy and completely dried. 

The Rachmaninoff Heartbreak is perfect for fueling a budding summer romance or soothing a broken heart. Whether sharing in passion or pathos, this cocktail is best paired with an assortment of hors d'oeuvres (think fresh and dried fruits, nuts, cheese, chocolates!) and our music video "The Night... The Love...", featuring Rachmaninoff's Suite No. 1 for Two Pianos. 😉

Enjoy!

-Greg

Penny for your thoughts?

We've finally had a long enough break between concerts to really dig into your New Music New Video composition competition entries, and we are loving everything. KUDOS to all of the entrants so far!

Amongst the social media chatter, an interesting topic came up regarding the competition: the absence of a cash prize.

"...the opportunity does not have a dollar prize for the winner... this is an example of an all-too-frequent occurrence, artists being offered 'exposure' rather than being paid for their work. Might you also consider offering some kind of prize for the winner?"

Here are our thoughts (but we're also curious to hear yours!):

Yes, in some sense, this competition is about exposure. We absolutely hope to expose wonderful new music to our large international online audience. We receive unsolicited compositions on a near daily basis (much of which is really fantastic!), and since it is impossible to perform every piece sent our way, we thought of the competition as a way to highlight at least a few of these composers’ voices.

Beyond that, having made dozens of these music videos in the past 10+ years, we see the prize as granting so much more than just exposure. It’s an opportunity for a composer to collaborate in the creativity of filmmaking, think outside the box, have fun with classical piano music, and learn from our video-making experience. 

Those who deem a cash prize to be the only suitable reward may not be the sort of collaborator we’re searching for. We began making our music videos from scratch, resourcefully using venues and equipment already available to us, and we quickly came to enjoy the thrill of the entire do-it-yourself process, from the beginning’s blank canvas to the magic of editing. We’ve discovered that the artistic joy lies in the back-and-forth exchange of ideas, the brainstorming, the imagination, the collaboration! We‘re looking for someone to join us in the process.

It should be noted that not only is there no financial compensation for the winning entry, but there is no financial compensation for any of the artists involved… no compensation for any of the other composer applicants, none for our volunteer production assistants,  none for the two of us (who will serve as the pianists, producers, videographers, directors, audio engineers, and video editors). And we will personally finance any necessary production expenses ourselves, such as piano moving, permits, insurance, props, advertising, etc. In the end, we hope to spend less than a couple thousand dollars on production, but nonetheless create a music video that would, by all industry standards, compare to a $30,000+ budget production. We’re excited to do so! We see the investment of time, skill, and money as an investment in the winning composer and in the advancement of our mission to make this music a relevant and powerful force in society.

Now you know our thoughts on the matter — care to share yours? Let us know what you think in the comments or on social media!

new music new video sign.jpg

Happy Mother's Day!

As we celebrate the release of our album, Mother: A Musical Tribute, we've found oursevles reflecting on our own mothers, to whom we dedicated the album. These inspiring women are forces of nature and nurturing, guidance and inspiration, patience and strength, and, of course, love: profound, fierce, unconditional. Words can't express our deep gratitude to these phenomenal women, but we'll still give it try with a couple of heartfelt anecdotes. 

My mother—a woman of grace, originality, and playfulness; an exceptional artist, cook, and fashionista; and an eternal source of encouragement, inspiration, and love—has been unconditionally supportive of my creative endeavors from the start. She was the type of parent that let me draw Pollock-style with crayons on the stair wall when I was a toddler (it has since been covered!). On one particularly memorable occasion, she accompanied me to a piano competition in Milwaukee; each of us thought the other person had packed my dress in the car, but we discovered upon arriving that the dress was left at home! As time was of the essence—and I was dressed in jeans, which would have been inappropriate for the occasion—she drove all the way back to the Chicago suburbs (at a higher speed than usual!), retrieved the dress, and dashed back up to Milwaukee, arriving just in the nick of time for me to walk onstage and play. I ended up winning the competition, but I couldn't have done it without her saving the day. I shall forever dedicate that meaningful step in my early career (and many musical moments that preceded and followed) to my supermom. 💖 –Liz
My mom did whatever needed to be done — she spent HOURS every week driving me to rehearsals and lessons (piano and violin); she helpfully shouted "Relax your shoulders!" whenever passing by the practice room; she cheered me on at my concerts; and she fiercely defended me from the other parents who couldn't understand my *uniqueness.* But what was truly invaluable growing up was her pragmatism; she kept me grounded, which can be a daunting task for any artist! Somehow my mom found the perfect balance of support and circumspection, building my confidence with her encouragement while also kindling my inner strength in response to her cautionary practicality. In retrospect, she did everything right and I can’t thank her enough.  –Greg

Whether your mothers are with you today or live on in your memories, we hope you all have a spectacular Mother's Day full of peace and motherly love. 

Let it Be

"And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow
Let it be..."

We were feeling ultra-ambitious going into our three-day film shoot last fall, planning to capture footage for as many as five music videos. Keeping our jam-packed schedule and the Beatles' gentle reminder to "Let It Be" in mind, we settled on a simple concept to let our wild dueling-gospel-piano arrangement of "Let It Be" speak for itself.

Our filming days are usually quite hectic. You can generally find us running around, tending to all the film's production needs, serving not only as performers, but also producers, directors, camera people, assistants... the list goes on and on. The pleasant surprise of this shoot was that the uncomplicated concept allowed us to relax a bit and really enjoy the music and each other's company. During post production, we got the idea to include the fun "behind-the-scenes" moments in the music video itself.

After all these years we still genuinely like each other and have so much fun doing what we do. That's why we're SO excited about our New Music New Video composition competition. It'll be such a blast to share this process with someone new and see how that shakes everything up!

Speaking of "behind-the-scenes," this masterpiece made us all count our blessings:

Twenty-two takes? Is it just us, or does Paul look like this had better be the last take. 😜

Although we shot "Let it Be" digitally, we applied a faint VHS-style color degradation during post production as an indirect throwback to that gorgeous Beatles video. We got lucky with another subtle Beatles reference when Liz started to get into it and toss her hair around; we couldn't help but think of the Beatles rocking out in their shaggier years.

All in all, we're so happy with how "Let it Be" turned out and thrilled that it was ready to share with you all in time for Mother's Day! It'll be the perfect addition to your glowing Mother's Day tribute on mom's Facebook page this weekend. 😉

Les Larmes

Stephen Malinowski has done it again! Check out his gorgeous visual representation of our recently released recording of Les Larmes, the third movement of Rachmaninoff's Suite No. 1 (Fantaisie-Tableaux) for Two Pianos, Op. 5. The complete suite can be found on our new album, Mother.

Tears

Tears, human tears
You flow both early and late —
You flow unknown, you flow unseen
Inexhaustible, innumerable —
You flow like torrents of rain
In the depths of an autumn night.

-poem by Fyodor Tyutchev

We love how the colors and mood shift in the chromatic middle section of the piece and how he's transformed the notes of the melody into tears that bleed and blur as if seen through crying eyes. Stephen has worked similar magic on our recordings of The Cat's Fugue and Vivaldi's Sento in Seno.

Thank you, Stephen! We adore your work look forward to collaborating with you again soon!