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piano quintet

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes


World Premiere
Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA
Seattle Chamber Music Society
Composer's Notes

As the title suggests, Voyage Out starts in one place and ends in an other.

I grew up in a musical family; my mother was a composer and my father a violist. My brother is also a composer. In our early teens, my brother and I were both extraordinarily devoted rock musicians. It consumed all our attention. But because our parents were classical trained musicians, we had a large record collection in our house. I remember starting to listen to these recordings - to Beethoven, Bartok, Stravinsky, Brahms, Schumann - and I was hooked. What struck me, back then, was how wide the emotional, sonic, landscape was of this music. As much as I loved pop and rock, this “other” music seemed to have so much more breadth. You could go anywhere. You sit down to listen to a Mahler symphony and you get on in one place and get off in another. It is this feeling of music representing some sort of mind journey that has stuck with me ever since.

Though this idea is, I suppose, implicitly present in much or all of my music, I had, until now, never thought to write a piece that explicitly tried to trace some such journey in sound. Voyage Out starts out with loud, vigorous, intense material, which as the piece progresses gives way to an increasingly distant, remote sound world. The piece could be thought of as being in two fractured movements, where the first is interrupted by the second, and the second in turn interrupted by a continuation of the first. After that, the second movement continues, but with the material increasingly deconstructed and distanced. Fragments of the vigorous first movement occur at points throughout this section, but in increasingly remote presentations, like one might see a massive city dissolve into a speck as one takes a boat further out to sea.

Enthusiasts of the work of Virginia Woolf (as I am) might wonder if there is some connection to her first novel, A Voyage Out. Though I loved the book when I read it many, many years ago, and the title is indeed similar, I wasn’t trying to make any particular association. That said, one of the images from the book that has stayed with me all these years is that of the main character, Rachel, playing Beethoven’s piano sonata, Op. 111 while on a boat sailing out to sea. The piece is for piano and string quartet. It was commissioned by Seattle Chamber Music.

Press Quotes

“In the extended final section – music of remarkably forlorn beauty – fragile, icy harmonics and wide-spaced silences conjured for me something more like an astral voyage, or the universe in the end stages of entropy. Or you might think of Voyage Out as mapping out a kind of epistemological Doppler effect, where the clear-cut identity of the initial material falls apart after a certain point.” —Bachtrack

“With one new sound at a time, Currier created a strange mystical landscape that led me out from the cave into a magical world all its own. The feeling was unique, and left me hungering for another listen.” —Classical Voice North America

“Densely scored and rhythmically challenging, this performance often sounded like a work for chamber orchestra, not just a quintet.” —Seattle Times

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