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LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Colored Field; Musica celestis; Air
PERFORMER: Truls Mørk (cello); Minnesota Orchestra/Eiji Oue
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45464 2
The American composer Aaron Jay Kernis, 40 last year, has a gift for long singing melodic lines, and a fondness for the big, bold statement – often with explicitly political associations. Colored Field is a 40-minute concerto inspired by a visit to the site of two Nazi concentration camps: it has a first movement of lament and protest, a central scherzo of sometimes banal malevolence and a long but convincingly shaped finale pitting the still, small voice of the soloist against the grand abstraction of moral law and the threat of returning evil. The work was originally written in 1995 for cor anglais, but in this new version the solo line suits the cello well, its cantorial inflections waking distant echoes of Bruch’s Kol Nidrei and Bloch’s Schelomo. The two shorter works are also adaptations: Musica celestis, a transcription of a quartet movement for string orchestra, reaches heights of radiant exaltation in homage to Hildegard of Bingen; Air, an arrangement of a violin piece for cello and orchestra, shows Kernis at his simplest and most expressive. Truls Mørk is an eloquent soloist, and the orchestral contribution and recording are outstanding. Anthony Burton