KERNS: Color Wheel (2001). Symphony No. 5 Chromelodeon (2018).
To celebrate their 40th Anniversary, the Orfeo label has issued this 10-disk set of recordings made 1951 - 1991, many live performance. Above is a list of repertory, conductors and recording dates. Unless otherwise indicated, pefformancs are by the the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. All of these have previously been issued and now collectors can obtain these at budget price. Included is a 36-page booklet with complete recording information and an article about Orfeo.
This site has praised many recordings of music of Aaron Jay Kernis, most recently the Naxos American Classics issue of his Flute Concerto and Second Symphony (REVIEW). Now this fine Naxos series continues with two world premiere Kerniis recordings. Color Wheel, written in 2001 for the inaugural concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra in their new hall, the Kimmel Center: Wolfgang Sawallisch conducted. Kernis is a native Philadelphian and attended many concerts of the orchestra in their previous hall, the Academy of Music. Color Wheel was written for various groups of instruments and although not stated in CD notes, it seems these groups were spaced throughout the new hall, doubtless with thrilling effect. Color Wheel is descibed by the composer as a "concerto for orchestra" and gives peformers many opportunities for virtuoso display. It is unfortunate this firrst recording wasn't made multi-channel so the composer's original intent could be replicated. And it turned out that the Kimmel Center was a disaster acoustically and since that time millions of dollars have been spent to improve it—but to this day it cannot match any of the great world-class venues. Kernis' Symphony No. 4, composed in 2018, is subtitled Chromelodeon. There are three movements: Out of Silence, Thorn Rose / Weep Freedom (after Handel), and Fanfare Chromelodia. Program notes describe the composer's intent in all of this music, and both pieces are marked by dissonant outbursts. I found these to be minor additions to the Kernis catalog. Surely the performances are excellent and the recordings were made November 2016 (Color Wheel) and February 2019 in Nashville's Laura Turner Concert Hall. The Nashville Orchestra is excellent under conductor Giancarlo Guerreo. Engineers have provided excellent stereo sound.
R.E.B. (JULY 2020)