Composers & WorksChris Dench

En petit mot-crabe-c’est-ma-faute
for trombone and percussion
Composed for Cain Malikides
First performance: 14 May 2022

Performed at the ANAM Set Festival by
Cian Malikides (trombone) and Alex Meagher (percussion)

The ANAM Set ยท Chris Dench's 'un Petit Mot Crabe - C'est - Ma - Faute' performed by Cian Malikides and Alex Meagher

Program note:
Many years ago I was reading the mesmerising late poems of Aimé Césaire, and I cam upon a reference to a crabe-c’est-ma-faute from his native Martinique.

- Aimé Césaire from internonce from moi luminaire (1982)

un petit mot couresse
un petit mot crabe-c’est-ma-faute
un petit mot pétale de fee
un petit mot pétrel plongeur
un petit mot saxifrage de tombeaux

(…a little word couresse
a little word through-my-fault crab
a little word petal of fire
a little word diving petrel
a little word tomb saxifrage)

This seemed to me such a strong image that I did more research and discovered that they are the French cousins of fiddler crabs. I watched footage of these crabs and realised that in display, with claws extended, (pace violinists), they looked like trombonists playing pavillon en l’air.

Now, I’m not much given to writing nature music per se (the elements of nature that interest me are usually either inconveniently tiny or vast) but I became aware of the almost-tangible salt tang o the Caribbean tidal pool evoked by the poem taking hold of my compositional imaginings. To fully realise these poetic and paradisiacal dreams necessitated adding a percussionist to the trombone to heighten this flavour.

About the composer:
Chris Dench is an Australian composer. Coincidentally, he is 67. He has written for a wide range of genres including many solo works for woodwind and piano, chamber music, ensemble music, and four symphonies. His works appear on many CDs including three Composer Portrait discs, and he is a featured composer on the Score Follower channel. In 2017 Peter de Jager won the APRA AMCOS Art Music Performance of the Year Award for his concert at ANAM introducing Dench’s 100’ Piano Sonata, and in 2020 the piano work passing bells: day as played by Alex Raineri won the Art Music Work of the Year: Chamber Music category.

He is currently working on a series of Iso-études: solos and duos written during the COVID era. The first two of these, for solo vibraphone, are being printed by Smith Publications, Vermont, and the third, ghosts of motion for clarinet d’amore, appears on Richard Haynes’ latest CD.

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