Wild Pitches

Released: 6 May 2012

I am pleased to present Wild Pitches, my sixth collection of original compositions for piano. This album differs from the first five in that I am the only pianist to perform, but I want Korin, Derek, Ellie, and Ben to know that I do forgive them for leaving me all alone this time. Although I had no pianist collaborators, I am grateful that I was able to borrow the great vocal talent of Joe Church for “Eclipse.”

CD Artwork

Liner Notes

  1. First Impressions: I hoped this piece would be at least a little reminiscent of the French impressionist composers. It is dedicated to our dear friend, Liz Maxwell, who invariably makes a good first impression. (Reliable sources have confirmed that her 34th impression is generally pretty good, as well.)
  2. . The Latin Translation: My daughter, Ellie, played cello in her high school orchestra and her final concert this past May included a wonderfully rhythmic piece by a Latin American composer, Arturo Márquez. As I listened, I decided to try to compose a piece in a similar style. Of all of the pieces on Wild Pitches, this one was the most fun to play!
  3. The Waves of Mauna Lani: This composition was written this month as a gift for my friend, Ellen Stross. It is named after one of her favorite vacation locations in Hawaii.
  4. Inside Straight: I occasionally host friendly poker games in my home during which we all enjoy the delicious combination of camaraderie and junk food. These games inspired this upbeat ragtime piece, which was one of the first pieces that I composed for this CD.
  5. The Innocent Sleep: This was the last piece that I composed for this CD. It is a slow-paced tribute to the therapeutic value of sleep that was so eloquently described by Shakespeare in Macbeth: “Chief nourisher in life’s feast”
  6. A Minor Indiscretion: This is a blues piece, partly written in advance and partly improvised in the recording studio, that returns cyclically to basic themes in A minor. It is also the longest of the 97 pieces that I have recorded!
  7. Enduring Grace: This piece was written earlier this year as a gift for newborn Elijah McFadden and his mother, Jennifer.
  8. The Silver Shovel: “The Silver Shovel” is a prized teaching award given out each year by the Galens Medical Society to one member of the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School. That person gets to keep the shovel for one year and then presents it to the next winner in a ceremony the following year. In 2007, I wrote a song about the Silver Shovel, in which I described some interesting and unusual ways one might employ the shovel during the year that one has it. My daughter helped me to illustrate the song with a series of humorous photographs and the presentation had its debut that year at the Shovel ceremony.
  1. Rondo Alberti: For each CD, I like to write a piece in the style of the classical era. This one, which utilizes the “Alberti bass,” was composed as a gift for my friend and Plymouth neighbor, Albert Catalan.
  2. Do-it-Yourself Jingle: A few years ago, I entered a jingle contest for a local restaurant. Since my entry was not chosen to be the winner (shocking, I know), I now humbly present the piano portion by itself. If you have a product or service that you wish to promote, just add your own words to create a do-it-yourself jingle!
  3. Fifty Years: This is a piano version of a song that I wrote for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration in 2006. [2021 update: A version with the lyrics can be found on the Vocal Compositions playlist.]
  4. Six Words: This song was a gift to my fabulous daughter, Ellie, for her high school graduation and is an earnest summary of our close relationship. I regret that I couldn’t offer Ellie a better singing voice than mine.
  5. Eclipse: My dear father, Burril Fine, died on June 9, 2011. I wrote this song a few weeks later to express my feelings of loss and loneliness. Joe Church, a talented senior medical student at the University of Michigan, was kind enough to sing it for this recording.
  6. Singing to Benjamin, Part 2: This is a tribute to my wonderful, suddenly-taller-than-his-father son, Ben. When he was a baby, I wrote an instrumental piece for him that I called “Singing to Benjamin” (a piece that he learned to play this year). For his 16th birthday, I decided to give him another musical gift, this one with lyrics.