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2013; concerto for cello and chamber orchestra

While Dreamsongs is a concerto for cello and chamber orchestra, it doesn’t take on the forms of older concerti. Rather than the almost ubiquitous three movement layout—Fast-Slow-Fast—it has only two movements, both of which mix slow and fast with dramatic and lyrical sections. The first, 'Floating Dreamsongs' is mostly slow and airy, and is built as a group of continuously developing variations on the intimate music from its opening and 1st variation with strings, harp and vibraphone. The consonant harmonies become spooked and furtive, building into tremulous marimba and vibraphone rolls with large orchestra chords, and only much later returns to a mostly peaceful character.

Much of the 2nd movement, 'Kora Song', is inspired by music of the African kora, a plucked gourd almost similar in sound to the harp and pizzicato cello combination that opens the movement and is often featured in it. I don’t know of many cello pieces that concentrate on pizzicato playing as much as this movement, and the playing style was developed in close collaboration with the soloist. The music frequently changes direction and features a number of cello cadenzas of smaller and larger size, sometimes with the West African djembe drum. Overall it has a gentle exuberance and is lighter in tone and more energetic than in the opening movement.

Dreamsongs is written for the generous and virtuosic playing of cellist Joshua Roman, who I’ve known for a number of years, and has been my neighbor in New York City until recently. It is dedicated to him. It was co-commissioned for him by the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, Ohio, and the Bellingham Festival in Washington State.

from notes by Aaron Jay Kernis © 2018


Kernis: Dreamsongs & other concertos
Studio Master: SIGCD524Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Movement 1: Floating Dreamsongs
Movement 2: Kora Song

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