The Jasper String Quartet writes of their new release: “This Album marks the culmination of our decade-long journey with Aaron Jay Kernis’ music for string quartet. From the moment we put bow to string for Aaron’s Second Quartet, we realized his special voice and our connection to his music’s ability to capture both the complexity of the world and the simplicity of a moment. This depth fascinated us, inspired our playing and prompted us to dream of commissioning Aaron’s 3rd Quartet. Six years later, after performing and recording his first two Quartets and organizing the commission, we received the first movement of his Third Quartet “River”.
As the movements accumulated in our inbox, so did our sense of excitement and dread.Read more It was clear that this piece surpassed its two preceding quartets in complexity and difficulty. The route forward was clear enough, but still daunting. Practice, rehearse, repeat. Through the spring and into the summer the piece started to take shape. Coalescing first a little at a time - glimmers of cleverness, brilliance, atmosphere amid the musical and technical challenges. As those moments grew to sections and then movements that began to make sense, we started to build them into the larger arc. The quartet is subtitled “River”, an analogy for the constancy of change in our lives. The music too is constantly evolving, from moment to moment never predictable, never repeating itself. The flow of ideas isn’t one but four-dimensional, swirling constantly backward and forward in time and space. Yet there is a calculation of purpose, a consideration of form and care to structure that keeps the music grounded and allows a story to build out of the organic chaos…”
The reality is that these are very different pieces. The Kernis is angular, dissonant, complex, and long. Humble it’s not. The Jaspers, who comissioned it, play with intensity and commitment.
– American Record Guide
Debussy's Quartet makes for nice contrast with the Kernis Third, and the Jasper’s performances of both are flawless in ensemble and intonation, expressively assured and beautifully balanced. The sound quality is first-rate.