Kronos Quartet - 25 Years

Album cover art
Label: NONESUCH
Catalog: 2279504
Format: CD

Seems like only yesterday the Kronos Quartet stepped up their career as musical mavericks with a coveted, wide-open contract with Nonesuch Records. Now it's Nonesuch's turn to give Kronos the big-package nod, gathering key works recorded by the group--from younger composers and time-tested veterans alike--into this 10-CD box set. As one might expect, the set is stuffed with contrasts, from the first CD, with its 11-part, upstepping John Adams suite and then the far more solemn Missa Syllabica from Arvo Pärt. Nearly 20 of these pieces here were composed expressly for Kronos, pitched and sculpted for their easily-racked mixture of straightforward string quartet roles and intelligently restructured approaches to the even the simplest gestures. Perhaps most key here is George Crumb's Black Angels, in large part due to Crumb's role in inspiring David Harrington to form Kronos 25 years ago. Crumb's music spirals and chases through the air, engaging high pitches and fast pacings as if they were ends in themselves. Gone from this set are most of the short snippets that have filled some of Kronos's other fine single CD recordings. In abundance instead are some of the legendary works: Morton Feldman's long, endlessly patient Piano and String Quartet (with Aki Takahashi), Steve Reich's unnerving Different Trains, and Henryk Górecki's String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2. There are also some of the astounding Eastern European works from Night Prayers as well, including the stunning Quartet No. 4 from Sofia Gubaidulina. And of course there are the Kronos biggie pieces: Philip Glass's works fill one CD, and so do Terry Riley's. What's more, Riley's Cadenza on the Night Plain and "G Song" are presented here in entirely fresh, new recordings. What the listener gets is a huge block of music, full of shifting colors and textures but perfectly apt in giving a wide-angle vantage on what Kronos has done for contemporary music. --Andrew Bartlett

Price: $199.98
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