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Sarah Kirkland Snider

Publisher: G. Schirmer

The Currents (2013)
Commissioned by the American Piano Association
Publisher
G Schirmer Inc
Category
Solo Keyboard(s)
Year Composed
2013
Duration
7 Minutes
Orchestration
Availability
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Programme Note
Sarah Kirkland Snider The Currents (2013)
Composer note:
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. I know the literature well — how deeply and imaginatively the instrument has been explored, 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 pyrotechnical dazzle. When I was younger, I wrote some piano music that consciously strove for virtuosity, but these days I'm 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 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 focus on storytelling 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 set a few years ago. The cycle is about memory, innocence, and the ways we cope with an unpredictable world. The 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."

— Sarah Kirkland Snider

  • Soloist(s)
    Michael Mizrahi, piano
    New Amsterdam:
Performances
Reviews
Sarah Kirkland Snider’s 2013 eponymously titled piece, The Currents, effectively avoids indulging emotion, favoring subtle atmospheric suggestion, true to 19th century impressionism. Flowing lyricism in the upper registers are accompanied by brooding ostinato from the left hand. The piece, however, is not without its surprises. On several occasions, the tone changes in unprepared modulation. Mizrahi’s performance breathes life to the notes at these moments with abrupt dynamic and temporal shifts. At times tempestuous, at others placid, The Currents is a force of nature—both monsoon and mild breeze.
Norman Cahn, I Care if You Listen,17/08/2016
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, Sequenza21.com,04/06/2016
The Currents is very much a song-without-words, a distillation of the color and lyricism of those cycles [Penelope and Unremembered] into a melodic and idiomatic solo number.”
Stephen Johnson, WQXR,21/03/2016
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