Mickey Finn


Solo Violin
Commissioned by Michelle Makarski
First performance: October 1996 Michelle Makarski, Los Angeles, CA
Recorded on ECM CD - Michelle Makerski

Program notes: 

            The score of mickey finn contains, by way of a brief explanation, the Webster’s definition of the title:  ‘mickey finn [slang], a drink of liquor to which a powerful narcotic or purgative has been added, given to an unsuspecting person.’  By extension, a mickey finn is a double-cross, a sucker punch, a sudden and involuntary change of plans.  This translates into music of mercurial shifts of character, sometimes stark juxtapositions, and a generally vernacular-based language suggesting both American popular music and a hint of folk music from my own ancestors (Scots-Irish).  After the opening sets up a kind of groove that is gradually filled-in, there are several shifts of mood:  a sudden, cadenza-like passage; a chorale consciously related to Bach which returns near the end; a section marked feroce.  ‘Mickey’ is also the nickname of the dedicatee of the piece, Michelle Makarski, and I couldn’t resist the punning title given Mickey’s mercurial spirit both as a person and a musician.  (Happily, she’s not a sucker punch.)  I composed the piece in 1996 at Mickey’s request, and the commission fee was dinner and margaritas at the Paradise Café in Santa Barbara.    - Donald Crockett