Aaron Jay Kernis (1960) is a US composer who studied at the San Francisco Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music and Yale School of Music. For many years he served as New Music Advisor for the Minnesota Orchestra. His String Quartet no. 1 was composed in 1990 and it was performed for the first time in November of 1990 by the Lark Quartet. The second movement had a tremendous success hat the composer arranged it or String Orchestra under the title “Musica Celestis” (Music of the heavens) this work was premiered on March, 1992 by the Sinfonia San Francisco and directed by Ranson Wilson. This second String Quartet is called “musica instrumentalis” and it was composed in 1997.
Aaon Jay Kernis considers this String Quartet op 2 as inspired by the Renaissance and the baroque dance music and dance forms. The first movement has a mixture of many types of dances which has to be played separately and in a few parts simultaneously. The first part can be seen as an exposition with different strands and energetic music, the second part is more gentle with just two dances: a canzonetta and a musette, the final section of the movement has different parts of the first section. The second movement is an alternation between two types of Sarabandes with the frenetic character of the first movement. It was dedicated to Bette Snapp. The last movement is based on Beethoven’s op 59 no. 3 String Quartet. It is an energetic double fugue, tarantella, rondo, gigue and a few times a triple fugue all of then inside the umbrella term of the sonata form. The whole quartet is dedicated to Linda Hoeschler "in gratitude for her friendship, generosity, and support, and in honor of her perpetual faith in the creative spirit."
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) was a Japanese composer and he can be compared with Kernis in the sense that he composed traditional Japanese music and his music is near Debussy, Messian or Cage. An example of his piece is: “Textures” composed in 1964. He has his own style as Kernis has his own style too but the main different on both is the notation that Takemitsu uses jumping through registers and the constant ties in the melodies, and the fermatas. Another difference between then is the influence they received: Takemitsu is influenced by French and compositional technique while Kernis seems more influenced by Bach and the German compositional tradition.
Form me Kernis seems a great composer I really enjoyed listening to the String Quartet number one and number two they have a really personal energy.
Koozin, Timothy. “Toru Takemitsu and the Unity of Opposites.” College Music Symposium. Vol. 30, No. 1 (1990): 34-44
String Quartet op.2 recording: http://www.musicsalesclassical.com/composer/work/29494
“Toru Takemitsu, Textures.” YouTube Video. Uploaded by “taishi34 on October 10, 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G34poeKMjrQ