2012, 7′ for solo piano
World Premiere: April 15, 2013 by Andrew Staupe, piano, at the American Pianists Association Classical Fellowship Awards, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN.
The Currents was commissioned by the American Pianists Association for its Classical Fellowship Awards. Piano was my first instrument and musical passion, so a solo piano commission for a competition initially intimidated me greatly. I know the literature well—how deeply and imaginatively the instrument has been explored, and how difficult it is to invent new ways to challenge the pianist. There is an idea that a piece written for a competition should do this, that it should invent new technical demands and showcase extreme pyrotechnical dazzle. When I was younger, I wrote some piano music that consciously strove for virtuosity, but that is no longer where I am as an artist.These days I am more interested in getting at what is most peculiarly personal and in need of expression.
So when I was asked to write this piece, I decided that my contribution would be something that challenged the pianist to be at their most expressive, poetic, and lyrical, something that would reward a sharp attention to detail and sensitivity to pacing and narrative. Of course, the fact that it was for a competition never fully left my mind, so the piece does require a formidable technique, but my hope is that The Currents allows the performer to exercise and display other kinds of skills as well—skills that, to my mind, are just as essential to becoming an unforgettable pianist.
The title of the piece, and the overall emotional impetus, was inspired by a larger cycle of poems, Unremembered, by poet Nathaniel Bellows, which I’m setting at the moment. The cycle is about memory, innocence, and the ways we cope with an unpredictable world. One line from which I drew the title reads “But like the hidden current/somewhere undersea/you caused the most upheaval on the other side of me.”
“The title track, by Sarah Kirkland Snider, is a real standout. It adroitly covers a wide swath of both emotional and technical terrain. Thus, it is an ideal solo vehicle for Mizrahi…”
–Christian B. Carey, Sequenza 21, March 26, 2016
“In entrancing the listener with the slow dazzle of its intertwining patterns, Mizrahi’s rendition of Snider’s “The Currents” sets the mark high at the outset. There’s a lilting, Debussy-like flow to the material that does, in fact, suggest water movements, especially when the music fluctuates between the rapid motion visible at one stage in a river and the peaceful calm evident elsewhere…
—textura, April 2016
“The Currents” is very much a song-without-words, a distillation of the color and lyricism of those cycles [Penelopeand Unremembered] into a melodic and idiomatic solo number.”
—WQXR, Daniel Stephen Johnson, March 21, 2016
–“…this solo piano piece carries the same flowing lyricism and sensitivity as Snider’s vocal music—but without any of the words. Mizrahi’s fingers swim gracefully through the ebb and flow of the piece, beautifully capturing the depth and breadth of colors that make the currents come to life.”
–Molly Molloy, Second Inversion, April 11, 2016