Title - 'Color Wheel'
Artist - Aaron Jay Kernis
For those not in the know, Pulitzer Prize recipient and GRAMMY award-winner Aaron Jay Kernis is one of Americas most performed composers.
Indeed, both works on this brand new album exemplify his creative approach to orchestral composition, sharing elements in common, such as virtuoso percussion writing and the use of variation form.
Color Wheel (released June 12th, 2020 via Naxos American) -- which was composed especially for the Philadelphia Orchestra's opening concerts in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and in celebration of the orchestra's centennial -- is an exuberant miniature concerto for orchestra with a wide array of contrasts, whilst 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon" explores the coexistence of opposing musical forces to powerful, pensive, and touching effect.
Champions of new American music, the Nashville Symphony and its music director Giancarlo Guerrero had premiered numerous works, and received 13 GRAMMY Awards including two for Best Orchestral Performance.
Among their award-winning recordings include works by Michael Daugherty, Stephen Paulus, and Jennifer Higdon.
The two works on this recording share much in common: from the virtuosic, percussion-rich approach to orchestral writing to the fundamental use of variation as a unifying and essential creative compositional approach.
Though written more than 15 years apart, the two works are like related family members – one brash and exuberant, the other more serious and pensive in intent, though no less bold in manner.
1. 'Color Wheel' (2001) (22:30)
2. 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": I. Out of Silence' (11:20)
3. 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": II. Thorn Rose (Weep Freedom) [After G.F. Handel]' (12:17)
4. 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": III. Fanfare Chomelodia' (5:50)
Opening with the twenty-two minute title track, 'Color Wheel' -- which is actually dedicated, with love, to Kemis' wife, Evelyne Luest -- it is a most vibrant, at times Disney-esque, at others both furtive and adventurous, whilst always triumphantly confident in its soaring passages track, that then bleeds seamlessly into some fervent and rather, at times, foreboding dips and swirls found within 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": I. Out of Silence.'
In much the same vein, yet tinged with a more hopefully, playful spell of free flowing musical wonderment, 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": II. Thorn Rose (Weep Freedom) [After G.F. Handel]' is then backed by the shortest piece, the just under six minute, at times delicate and anchored, yet almost always harboring a flighty spirit of 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": III. Fanfare Chomelodia.'
"Two visual elements have influenced Color Wheel,' Kernis explains. "Color Wheels are tools used by artists and designers "that teach color relationships by organizing colors in a circle so you can visualize how they relate to each other"."
"Most Color Wheels show primary colors and myriads of related hues. I feel that this piece concentrates on the bolder contrasts of basic primary colors."
"I sometimes see colors when I compose, and the qualities of certain chords do elicit specific sensation in me — for example, I see A major as bright yellow."
"I've also been fascinated with Sufi whirling dervishes and their ecstatic spinning. This work may have some ecstatic moments but it is full of tension, continuous energy and drive."
"Harmonically it explores a wide gamut of colors, from huge overtone-derived chords, strongly contrasting levels of consonance and dissonance and occasional touches of jazz harmony and syncopation -- re-surfacing from a period of study during high school at the old Temple University Annex on Walnut Street."
Amazon CD Purchase Link