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Aaron Jay Kernis

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Violin Concerto (2017)
Work Notes
James Ehnes is the exclusive soloist until March 2021
AMP and AJK Music
Soloists and Orchestra
Year Composed
32 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Unavailable Explain this...
Programme Note
Aaron Jay Kernis Violin Concerto (2017)

With a highly charged first movement, Kernis sets out his stall with intense drama, before a fabulously film noir-ish second movement. Smokey, muted trumpets, a song-like lamentation on the violin and a frisson of kit-percussion make this a standout turn from both composer and soloist. The final movement is a wilder extension of this jazz-tinged mode, and the thrilling final minute-and-a-half sees Ehnes bowing, picking, and plucking to a frenzied finish.
BBC Music Magazine,26/11/2018
…the movement builds in intensity, and after a pyrotechnical cadenza closes with a tutti chord followed by a single pizzicato note.

Ballad, the blues-inflected central movement, allowed Ehnes to contrast melting lyricism with trenchant melancholy, once again against a beautifully coloured sonic backdrop. Energetic and not without a sense of humour, the concluding Toccatini (as the composer suggests, the name for a new martini) bubbles over with musical ideas all designed to showcase Ehnes’s astounding technique.
Tony Way, Limelight,15/04/2018
The first impression of the half-hour work is how quintessentially American it is. Just as when listening to a lot of music one can tell without knowing the composer whether it is Slavic or French, German, Russian, or English, so there is an unmistakable American flavor here.

Kernis uses a harmonic language in the concerto which is atonal but not muddy. There is little melody one can hum. His writing is dense and complex but at the same time with enough transparency to hear inner lines. His deft use of instrumental color is abundant, often using the winds as foil for the busy violin, with plenty to discover in further listening.
Philippa Kiraly,,18/03/2017
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