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Aaron Jay Kernis

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Phantom Polka (1987)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Year Composed
3 Minutes
Purchase CD
Programme Note
Aaron Jay Kernis Phantom Polka (1987)
Aaron Jay Kernis's "Phantom Polka" was commissioned by accordionist Guy Klucevsek for his "Polkas from the Fringe" project. Written for accordion and a couple of prerecorded sounds, "Phantom Polka" is program music with a somewhat unusual program: it takes its images from Abbott and Costello in the Haunted House. Specifically, it depicts a translucent ghost's sudden appearance on a stairway and a subsequent dance in a large ballroom filled with fellow apparitions. The music is gentle and mock-horrific, as the accordion is made to sound like a theater organ. The ghost appears to music which starts out properly spooky and erratic, but which quickly rises to a climax; soon the ghost is darting about to quick melody and thin textures on the accordion. Finally, the ghost descending the stairwell to a pungent, sinking scale on the accordion, and enters the ballroom. The ghosts dance to straightforward music, borrowing polka style and quoting a Dvorak Slavonic Dance. But then a prerecorded human shout intrudes, and the music flitters away. The "Phantom Polka" is warm-hearted and very funny.

-Andrew Lindemann Malone

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  • Soloist(s)
    Guy Klucevsek, accordion
    New World Records:
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