Aaron Jay Kernis’ “Before Sleep and Dreams,” Anthony de Mare

American composer Aaron Jay Kernis’ 1990 solo piano suite, Before Sleep and Dreams, offers a surreal depiction of the process of putting a small child to sleep. It’s music filled with echoes of Debussy, Chopin, and other composers. Debussy’s 1908 Children’s Corner and Schumann’s Kinderszenen Op. 15, (“Scenes From Childhood”) are obvious precedents. The final movement of Before Sleep and Dreams drifts off into a shimmering, ethereal soundscape. This is an excerpt from pianist Anthony de Mare’s 2005 album, Out of …

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Aaron Jay Kernis’ “Air”: A Love Letter to the Violin

In his program notes, American composer Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960) describes Air as “a love letter to the violin.” Written in 1995 for Joshua Bell, the piece is dedicated to Kernis’ wife, the pianist Evelyne Luest. It unfolds with a direct, songlike lyricism which warmly embraces tonality. Occasionally, there are echoes of the music of Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, and perhaps even late Mahler. The opening bars pull us into a lush, pastoral soundscape. …

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The 2019 Classical Grammys

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards ceremony took place in Los Angeles yesterday. Here are excerpts from the winning albums in the classical categories: Best Orchestral Performance This recording is the latest installment in a Shostakovich cycle featuring Nelsons and the Boston Symphony. Earlier recordings in the set won in the same category in the 2016 and 2017 Grammys. Additionally, this recording was awarded Best Engineered Album, Classical (Shawn Murphy and Nick Squire, engineers; …

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Musica Celestis: Three Pieces Inspired by the Harmony of the Spheres

It formed the ancient intersection of music, art, architecture, astronomy, mathematics, and mysticism. Originally developed by Pythagoras, the concept of the Harmony of the Spheres linked the movements of celestial bodies with universal vibrations. The sun, moon, and planets were believed to produce their own unique hum as they revolved around the earth. “Tones” of energy, expressed through mathematical relationships, manifested themselves in shapes and sounds. This supreme cosmic order was expressed in …

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