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Aaron Jay Kernis

Publisher: G. Schirmer

L'Arte della Danssar (from The Art of Dance) (2011)
Text Writer
trans. by A. William Smith and A.S. Kline
AMP and AJK Music
Solo Voices and 1-6 players
Year Composed
21 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
High soprano
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Programme Note
Aaron Jay Kernis L'Arte della Danssar (from The Art of Dance) (2011)
Italian, trans. by A. William Smith (nos. 1, 2, and 3) and A.S. Kline (no. 4)
from 'Fifteenth-Century Dance and Music,' the complete transcribed Italian treatises and collections in the tradition of Domenica da Piacenza, Volume 1

1. La Festa del Gientil Ballo — The Festival of Cultured Dance (anon., ca. 1459)
2. Dal ermonia suave — That Sweet Harmony (Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro, ca. 1471)
3. Bassadanza Chiamata REALE, per doi — BASSADANZA called REALE, for two (Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro, ca. 1471)
4. Trionfo di Bacco ed Arianna — The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne (Lorenzo de' Medici)

March 20 2011
Astral Artists
Philadelphia, PA

Sample Pages

The audience - and Astral has a loyal one - had a more concentrated dose of Kernis' elusive talent whose outward manner changes in nearly every piece, culminating in Sunday's premiere of da l'Arte Della Danssar (from the Art of the Dance). It's typically atypical Kernis: He employed chunks of 15th-century Italian text about the social function and pageantry of dance, more descriptive than poetic.

Commissioned by Astral and written for soprano, flute, viola, harp and percussion, these four chunky songs have buoyant clarity that suggested a creatively healthy composer...

In the new work, each musician pulls a different kind of weight. Simultaneous activities managed to be both independent and interdependent. Excise any one line and you'd still have a viable piece.

Vocal contours were efficient and affecting, revealing intimacies with deliberate manner and spare harp accompaniment. Kernis' past orchestral works were heard when masses of color swept in with great effect. For all the music's 15th-century echoes, we're still looking back from the 21st.

The performers were terrific. Particularly fascinating was the contrast between soprano Disella Larusdottir in Kernis' 1991 Simple Songs (which live up to their title) and the more eventful Art of the Dance. This potentially glass-shattering voice in the earlier work was engaged on so many more levels in the later one as to funnel her vocal ammunition into a more subtle expression, especially in her rich lower range.

The Philadelphia Orchestra's Don Liuzzi was the master of atmospheric percussion, with articulate contributions from Astral musicians you'd happily hear as soloists (flutist Jasmine Choi, harpist Bridget Kibbey and violist Teng Li).

David Patrick Stearns , Philadelphia Inquirer,22/03/2011
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