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Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, July 2015

Listeners unfamiliar with Kernis’ catalogue will be likely intrigued by his music, presented courtesy of pianist Andrew Russo and James Ehnes. Accompanied by the players of the Albany Symphony Orchestra—under the baton of Grammy Award-winning conductor David Alan Miller—Russo masterfully voices the distinctive mood of each movement in Three Flavors, the CD’s title track, which was originally scored for toy piano and premiered in 2002. This aspect of the music’s legacy is evident in the opening Ostinato, as Russo’s piano assumes the quality of a mechanistic plaything. The composition’s remaining movements evoke both the lush soundscapes of Ravel and the smoky jazz clubs of young America—an influence that listeners will find recurs on the CD’s remaining tracks, Two Movements (With Bells) and Superstar Etude No. 3. © 2015 Scene Magazine

Ralph Graves
WTJU, July 2015

Pianist Andrew Russo is a long-term collaborator with Kernis. His performances show the deep understanding he has of this music, and in my opinion, brings out their full potential. This was one recording I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. © 2015 WTJU Read complete review

Barry Bassis
The Epoch Times, June 2015

Kernis’s work, usually labeled neo-romantic, is both eclectic and imaginative, suggesting his influences without descending into mimicry. © 2015 The Epoch Times Read complete review

Robert Moon
Audiophile Audition, June 2015

The eclectic musical world of Aaron Kernis is easy on the ears and intellectually stimulating. © 2015 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Brian Wigman
Classical Net, June 2015

The Albany Symphony Orchestra plays with a real kick, and David Alan Miller creates a snappy and wholly invigorating sound world for Andrew Russo to swing along in. …this is one of the most unusual and rewarding entries I’ve heard in the American Classics line.

James Ehnes [is] magnificent here, effortlessly navigating the sometimes thorny writing. And Russo is just as convincing as a chamber partner. This is a fine disc of first-time recordings, but it’s the Three Flavors that will likely leave you hungry for more. © 2015 Classical Net Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2015

Born in 1960, Aaron Jay Kernis belongs to that influential group of American composers who are reinstating tonality, and creating a whole new musical world. Recipient of a number of major awards in the States, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1998, the present disc is now made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. It contains three works composed this century, and written in a style that is both refreshingly innovative and readily attractive, even to conservative audiences. All are receiving their world premiere recordings, the most recent being a version of Three Flavors, a work originally written in 2002 for Toy Piano and Orchestra. Now recast as a conventional piano concerto in three contrasting movements, its unusual sonorities, at times not all that far distant from Messiaen, fall pleasingly on the ear, though Kernis does at times pull us up with a jerk to remind us that atonality lives on. For the soloist it offers plenty of scope for virtuosity, the well-known American pianist, Andrew Russo, making light of the challenges. He continues as the accompanist in Two Movements (with Bells) for violin and piano. Written in memory of his father, Kernis recalls his love of jazz and blues, the two pieces giving the violinist flights of fantasy against the piano’s stable backdrop. The famous Canadian violinist, James Ehnes, obviously relishes the difficulties Kernis presents, Russo continuing with the short Ballad(e) out of the Blue(s) dedicated to the great jazz pianists of the 1970’s in the mood of improvisation. The Albany Symphony are worthy advocates of Kernis in Three Flavors, and the recording is first class, though the piano elsewhere sounds in need of tuning. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2015

Performances are quite good. Andrew Russo takes command of the piano parts throughout with a convincing warmth and drive; the Albany Symphony Orchestra under David Alan Miller do good work in realizing the first piece, and violinist James Ehnes drives the middle work with a passionate flight into solo violin singularity.

Aaron Jay Kernis is a talent. This is a very nice introduction to his latest music. © 2015 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle, May 2015

The music of Aaron Jay Kernis covers a wide expressive range, from the dramatic and monumental to a more intimate demeanor. But the music on this new and irresistible disc headlined by pianist Andrew Russo concentrates on sheer ingratiating beauty; good luck turning the music off after you get even a taste of what’s included here. All of it is buoyant and alluring, with an elegiac strain running through. © 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Read complete review

Steven A. Kennedy
Cinemusical, May 2015

The Albany orchestra tackles these pieces well and captures the rhythmic excitement of this music while also managing to create clear textures and support for soloists. Russo and Ehnes shine in their respective solo work too. This is another great testament to Naxos’ commitment to American contemporary music and makes for a great introduction to Kernis’ current work. © 2015 Cinemusical Read complete review

Richard Haskell
The WholeNote, April 2015

It was in homage to his late father that Kernis composed Two Movements (with Bells) in 2007, a BBC Proms commission for James Ehnes. Together, Ehnes and Russo engage in an animated and lively discourse, adroitly handling the energetic angular lines.

Kudos to all the artists on this CD for showcasing music by one of America’s most eclectic contemporary composers. © 2015 The WholeNote Read complete review

Lawrence Schenbeck
PS Audio, April 2015

Topnotch performances from everyone… © 2015 PS Audio Read complete review

Ettore Garzia
Percorsi Musicali, April 2015

In this world premiere recording, Naxos releases Kernis’ compositions that develop his chamber repertory; they reflect the current interest of the composer, passing to a form of “timeless” tonal-impressionistic composition, highlighting his most productive efforts on music of longer durations: here, the protagonist of the events is Andrew Russo’s piano; he plays three of Kernis’ compositions on solo piano or accompanied by violin or an orchestra. The evident change in Kernis’ writing, which seems to show him having irretrievably lost any minimalist ambitions, addresses itself to a vernacular structure with echoes of gamelan, Debussian crannies, and a feeling torn between the bucolic and the dynamic. A virtuosism that competes with the best masters of piano. © 2015 Percorsi Musicali, April 2015

[Two Movements] is meditative almost throughout…and James Ehnes, for whom the piece was commissioned, plays it very feelingly and with fine interaction with Andrew Russo. Russo is not only soloist but also adapter of the longest work here, Three Flavors… Kernis packs a bit too much into this package, whose exotic-sounding portions and piano-virtuoso ones coexist rather uneasily. But Russo and the Albany Symphony Orchestra under David Alan Miller certainly give the work their all, handling it with equal measures of bounce, breadth and enthusiasm. © 2015 Read complete review

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