Michael Mizrahi - The Bright Motion
With this album of recently composed works for solo piano, Michael Mizrahi showcases the continued vitality of an instrument that evokes an exceptionally rich musical heritage yet still is capable of expressing the most contemporary of musical ideas. The Bright Motion brings together a collection of works composed within the past five years, including several pieces written for Mizrahi, and two composed specifically for this album. In the case of the four commissioned works, the creative process was collaborative: several composers composed with Mizrahi’s hands, sound, and approach to the keyboard in mind, and the pianist communicated frequently with all the composers throughout the process of learning, performing, and recording their music. The six pieces display an astonishingly wide variety of approaches to timbre, melody, form, rhythm, and the range of the instrument, and the result is an album that builds on the traditional solo piano tradition yet has a modern sense of flow and emotional consistency.
Patrick Burke’s Unravel opens with a striving motive whose aspirations are constantly “unraveled” through cascading chromatic figures. William Brittelle’s Computer Wave is a virtuosic, perpetual motion tour de force with a short catchy rhythmic gesture that in the course of the piece is subjected to additive and subtractive techniques. Mark Dancigers composed what is now the second movement of The Bright Motion in 2007, which makes it the earliest work featured here, and wrote the first movement specifically for this album in 2011. The first movement evokes a kind of imaginary ballet in an equally imaginary landscape, while the second moves towards apotheosis before fading away. Ryan Brown’s Four Pieces for Solo Piano explore engaging figures in the rarely-used highest register of the piano, creating in effect a new keyboard instrument that does not extend very far below middle C. John Mayrose’s Faux Patterns intimately spins a slow-moving melody in the outer voices around a central oscillation between two notes: F and Gb. Judd Greenstein’s First Ballade is influenced by Chopin’s famous essays in that genre, tracing the broad arc of a dramatic narrative.
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