The Bright Motion
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Best Opera and Classical Albums of 2012 (Time Out New York)
Best Opera and Classical Albums of 2012 (Time Out Chicago)
The 100 Best Albums of 2012 (Jazz critic Ted Gioia)
*Listen to the album streaming here.
Artists featured on the album
Released on May 29, 2012 on New Amsterdam Records, The Bright Motion features world premiere recordings of new pieces by William Brittelle, Ryan Brown, Patrick Burke, Mark Dancigers, Judd Greenstein, and John Mayrose, most of which were composed for me.
Click below to listen to Judd Greenstein's First Ballade:
Press (Click here for press quotes)
National Public Radio's classical music blog, Deceptive Cadence, April 26, 2012
Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise, April 29, 2012, May 24, 2012, June 7, 2012
Textura Magazine, May 2012
Q2 (WQXR - New York) Album of the Week, May 21, 2012
Seated Ovation (blog) review, May 22, 2012
MUSO Magazine, June/July 2012
The New Jersey Star-Ledger, June 8, 2012 (album review), June 12, 2012 (feature)
The Washington Examiner, June 14, 2012
Time Out Chicago, June 21, 2012
The Appleton Post-Crescent, July 1, 2012 (feature)
Drowned in Sound, July 12, 2012
Time Out Chicago, December 20, 2012 (Best Opera and Classical Albums of 2012)
Time Out New York, December 24, 2012 (Best Opera and Classical Albums of 2012)
On the album
Computer Wave (2011)
The Bright Motion (2007-2011)
Four Pieces for Solo Piano (2010)
Faux Patterns (2009)
First Ballade (2008)
In the early years of a new century, composers are returning to the piano.
For centuries the piano has been a popular sounding board for new compositional ideas and styles—the ingenious explorations of compositional technique in Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, the pathbreaking musical ideas set forth in Beethoven’s piano sonatas, the previously unimaginable feats of virtuosity achieved by Liszt, and the sonic and formal experiments of Schoenberg’s piano pieces. Much of this cherished repertoire has been central to my solo career as a classical pianist.
By the end of the twentieth century, the piano had lost some of its status—compositions for solo piano declined in prominence at the artistic vanguard, some composers citing the intimidating tradition of canonical piano works as a factor in their reluctance to write for solo piano. However, in the twenty-first century, many composers of my generation, including those featured here, have come to view the piano as an instrument particularly receptive to new music. With this album of recently composed works for solo piano, I showcase 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.
This album brings together a collection of works composed within the past five years, including several pieces written for me, and two composed specifically for this album. In the case of the four commissioned works, the creative process was collaborative: several composers told me they composed with my hands, my sound, and my approach to the keyboard in mind, and I 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.
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 for me 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.
Notes by Michael Mizrahi
"The Bright Motion"
Music: Mark Dancigers
Director/Producer: Troy Herion & Elan Bogarin
Director of Photography: Meg Kettell
Wardrobe: Emily Miller
New Amsterdam Records