AARON JAY KERNIS (b.1960): Symphony in Waves, Newly Drawn Sky, Too Hot Toccata.
Catalogue Number: 09K100
Reference: CDR 90000 105
Description: Both Sky and Toccata have something of a concerto for orchestra feel to them, the music constantly transforming and developing through restlessly changing waves of inventive orchestration, always colorful and texturally rich and generous. Kernis' idiom remains basically tonal throughout, and the music never fails to be passionately expressive and emotionally charged. Sky is a rapturous evocation of summer evenings, evolving light and shadow and the grandeur and activity of natural and man-made landscapes. Toccata is a hyperactive, high-energy scherzo for orchestra, incorporating a honky-tonk piano part and much virtuosic percussion writing; a humorous musical portrait of hectic urban life, perhaps. The symphony is a large, inclusive example of the genre in five contrasting movements, incorporating elements of many styles and techniques. The idea of 'waves' is present in one form or another throughout, most explicitly in the quasi-minimalistic opening section. The scherzo begins with glittering fragments of sound like reflections of light on ruffled water, but soon develops into a lively and humorous episode. The central slow movement is the dramatic heart of the work, dissonant blocks of sound suggesting some kind of impending disaster on a catastrophic scale. The little intermezzo that follows represents a calm after the storm, and paves the way for the cumulative energy of the finale, sharing with the opening a minimalistic propulsiveness in its progession. Grant Park Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar.