Currents Michael Mizrahi
Revered pianist Michael Mizrahi's sophomore album of solo piano works, Currents, brings together six impeccably performed and recorded new American piano works. Almost all written specifically with Mizrahi’s singular sound and approach in mind, and featuring composers Sarah Kirkland Snider, Troy Herion, Mark Dancigers, Asha Srinivasan, Missy Mazzoli, and Patrick Burke. As with Mizrahi’s widely acclaimed New Amsterdam debut The Bright Motion (2012), Currents showcases the continued vitality of the piano’s exceptionally rich musical heritage while exploring its capability to express the most contemporary of musical ideas. Described as “deliciously listenable — a track-by-track love letter to the piano” (Q2 Music), the result is a “significant addition to the solo piano repertory of the 21st century that, as the title suggests, embodies movement forward” (Second Inversion) -- building on the great piano works of the past while propelling the solo piano repertoire ahead in a new and energized direction.
Almost all of the pieces on Currents were commissioned and premiered by Mizrahi, and composed with his hands, sound, and approach to the keyboard in mind. Mizrahi communicated frequently with the composers throughout the process of learning, performing, and recording their music, resulting in an album that is profoundly personalized. The album opens with the title track, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “The Currents”, flowing from start to finish, with currents of sound pulling the listener through eddies and whirlpools along the way. Troy Herion’s “Harpsichords” follows, evoking a transparent Baroque texture, replete with trills and shakes. Mark Dancigers’s “The Bright Motion Ascending” -- the third installment in his Bright Motion trilogy written for Mizrahi -- explores the vibrant upper reaches of the instrument before plummeting back to Earth with a cataclysmic final chord. Mizrahi brings an unparalleled depth to the playing, staying "rhythmically alert and lyrical in music that shifts from the concision of a Baroque toccata to the sensuosity of a Chopin nocturne” (NPR Music).
Next is Asha Srinivasan’s “Mercurial Reveries” is a probing five-movement work that draws on her Indian American heritage and is in one moment domineering and terrifying, and in the next, delicate and nostalgic. Missy Mazzoli’s “Heartbreaker” begins with focused precision and evolves into a trance-like state that eventually breaks down in a schizophrenic collapse. The album closes with Patrick Burke's “Missing Piece,” in which piquant dissonances into slow-moving triadic harmonies that plumb the lowest ranges of the piano. The works exhibit a tremendously varied compositional perspective, but feel unified by their custom design for Mizrahi’s sound, approach and virtuosic performance. Currents is at once both a vibrant reflection of the solo instrument’s storied past and charged movement in a direction it has not yet been.