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Kronos Quartet - 25 Years


Release Date: 10/27/1998 
Label:  Nonesuch   Catalog #: 79504   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  John AdamsArvo PärtKen BenshoofAstor Piazzolla,   ... 
Performer:  Joan JeanrenaudJohn SherbaDavid HarringtonHank Dutt,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Number of Discs: 10 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Imported from : UNITED KINGDOM   
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The string quartet is both the most exclusive and the most approachable of small instrumental combinations. On the one hand it has hosted some of the most profound and ethereal repertory in Western music, while on the other it is peculiarly responsive to popularization. Perhaps having a head-count that approximates the average pop group helps, and there is plenty of scope for projected ‘personality’. But there is also something intriguing about a good piece for string quartet, a sense of being a privileged fly on the wall, eavesdropping on conversations that were only really meant to be shared among four – a sort of cerebral or spiritual voyeurism.

The Kronos Quartet has always known how to make audio theatre out of chamber
Read more music, what with its numerous commissions, imaginative programmes, innovative ‘Radio Kronos’, flexible playing style and an openness to world music that is particularly apparent in this majestic 25th anniversary collection. In fairness, one might additionally recall that the excellent Arditti Quartet is also on the eve of celebrating its quarter-century. They too have promoted the cause of new music (the 32-CD Auvidis Arditti Edition is every bit as impressive as Kronos’s work for Nonesuch), but as hard-line avant-gardists, they rarely interest the sort of casual ‘passing trade’ that Kronos attracts more or less as a matter of course. Kronos knows the meaning of quality, but also has the common touch.

Nonesuch offers us a generous helping of reissues, supplemented by around two hours’ worth of new material. So while Arvo Part’s Psalom and Fratres are already available on single Kronos programmes, Summa (which is among the most sensual of Part’s tintinnabulatory works) and the concise Missa Syllabica appear here for the first time. John Adams is represented by the up-tempo delights of John’s Book of Alleged Dances and Steve Reich by his durable – and partly autobiographical – Different Trains. Years ago, Kronos’s leader David Harrington told me how taxing the original Reich sessions had been, but I cannot imagine that Gubaidulina’s compelling Fourth Quartet – which also calls for multiple quartets – would have been much easier to realize. But if you put on the first movement of Kevin Volans’s White Man Sleeps and sample its closing pages, you hear what must surely have been a thematic prompt for Different Trains (Volans’s piece dates ??\\ ??»from 1984, Reich’s from 1988). The similarity is striking.

George Crumb’s terrifying Black Angels is a sort of anti-Vietnam War protest in sound that anticipates Schnittke in its juxtaposition of the old (in this case Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet) and the new. Both Schnittke and Gorecki suggest profound inner conflicts laid bare, though the specific manners of their personal expression are highly contrasted: those who are rested by Gorecki’s ubiquitous Third Symphony (another Nonesuch hit, 4/93) should brace themselves for his chamber music.

Kronos back-pack across city, desert or plain, sighing deeply with Astor Piazzolla (on bandoneon) for his Five Tango Sensations and toughening up for his more aggressive Four, for Tango (another first release). Turn then to Osvaldo Golijov and you confront the Jewish world of kletzmer, with clarinettist David Krakauer spicing up The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind – a more vigorous and visionary encounter than you’ll find on most echt-kletzmer CDs. Franghiz Ali-Zadeh conjures folk motives from Azerbaijan, and Peter Sculthorpe (in Jabiru Dreaming, Quartet No. 8, From Ubirr) reinvents the music of the Aborigines (offered here for the first time on CD). P. Q. Phan’s tragi-comic Tragedy at the Opera recalls a Vietnamese singer who died in the line of stage duty (trying to sing a female role) and among the Americans, Ken Benshoof gives us his accessible, mostly upbeat Traveling Music (the Kronos’s first commission) and the extraordinarily moving elegy Song of Twenty Shadows – again a first release. Morton Feldman is represented by his slow-breathing, delicately textured Piano Quartet (with Aki Takahashi), Philip Glass by four surprisingly variegated Quartets (Nos. 2-5) and Terry Riley by excerpts from Salome Dances for Peace (the most minimalistic music on the set), the neo-baroque G Song (Riley’s first piece for Kronos) and the colourful Cadenza on the Night Plain. The last two are first releases.

Nonesuch’s presentation is a minor work of art in itself and the documentation an informed easy read, though there is precious little to indicate what is – or what is not – a first release. You would be hard pressed to find a friendlier, or more attractive entree to the world of new music, but it would also be great to hear Kronos cue some older repertory masterpieces, works that – like those featured here – create their own very individual sound worlds. I think of Haydn’s Op. 76 No. 5, Beethoven’s Opp. 131, 132 and 135, Mozart’s K421, Mendelssohn’s Op. 13, Schubert’s Death and the Maiden or the quartets of Grieg, Sibelius and Kreisler. All have a candour that transcends specific eras and would work wonderfully well within mixed programmes. Maybe some time during the next 25 years.

-- Gramophone [4/1999]
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Works on This Recording

1.
John's Book of Alleged Dances by John Adams
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), John Sherba (Violin), David Harrington (Violin),
Hank Dutt (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; USA 
Date of Recording: 1995-96 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 33 Minutes 16 Secs. 
2.
Fratres by Arvo Pärt
Performer:  David Harrington (Violin), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola),
John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977-1980; Estonia 
Date of Recording: 11/1998 
Venue:  Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 
Length: 9 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Notes: Ver: 1989 
3.
Psalom by Arvo Pärt
Performer:  David Harrington (Violin), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola),
John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991/1993 
Date of Recording: 08/1993 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 2 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: Ver: 1993 
4.
Summa by Arvo Pärt
Performer:  John Sherba (Violin), Hank Dutt (Viola), David Harrington (Violin),
Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; Estonia 
Date of Recording: 07/1997 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 5 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: Ver: 1991 
5.
Missa sillabica by Arvo Pärt
Performer:  David Harrington (Violin), Ellen Hargis (Soprano), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello),
Suzanne Elder (Alto), Paul Hillier (Baritone), Neal Rogers (Tenor),
Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; Estonia 
Date of Recording: 08/1993 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 12 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
6.
Traveling Music by Ken Benshoof
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), David Harrington (Violin), Hank Dutt (Viola),
John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1973 
Date of Recording: 08/1997 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 18 Minutes 57 Secs. 
7.
Song of Twenty Shadows by Ken Benshoof
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994 
Date of Recording: 08/1995 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 11 Minutes 17 Secs. 
8.
Five Tango Sensations by Astor Piazzolla
Performer:  David Harrington (Violin), Hank Dutt (Viola), Astor Piazzolla (Bandoneon),
John Sherba (Violin), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; Argentina 
Date of Recording: 11/1989 
Venue:  Power Station, New York City 
Length: 26 Minutes 46 Secs. 
9.
Four, for Tango by Astor Piazzolla
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), David Harrington (Violin),
John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1987; Argentina 
Date of Recording: 07/1997 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 3 Minutes 58 Secs. 
10.
Piano and String Quartet by Morton Feldman
Performer:  David Harrington (Violin), Aki Takahashi (Piano), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello),
Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/1991 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 79 Minutes 33 Secs. 
11.
Quartet for Strings no 4 "Buczak" by Philip Glass
Performer:  David Harrington (Violin), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola),
John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1993 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 23 Minutes 4 Secs. 
12.
Quartet for Strings no 2 "Company" by Philip Glass
Performer:  David Harrington (Violin), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola),
John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1983; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1993 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 7 Minutes 23 Secs. 
13.
Quartet for Strings no 5 by Philip Glass
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1993 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 21 Minutes 53 Secs. 
14.
Quartet for Strings no 3 "Mishima" by Philip Glass
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1993 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 15 Minutes 29 Secs. 
15.
The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind by Osvaldo Golijov
Performer:  David Krakauer (Basset-horn), David Krakauer (Bass Clarinet), David Krakauer (Clarinet),
Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), David Harrington (Violin), John Sherba (Violin),
Hank Dutt (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994 
Date of Recording: 01/1996 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 32 Minutes 5 Secs. 
16.
Quartet for Strings no 4 by Sofia Gubaidulina
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; Russia 
Date of Recording: 01/1994 
Length: 11 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Notes: Selection recorded at Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts and Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California. 
17.
Mugam sayagi by Franguiz Ali-Zadeh
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; Azerbaijan 
Date of Recording: 08/1993 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 21 Minutes 27 Secs. 
18.
Quartet for Strings no 2, Op. 64 "Quasi una fantasia" by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990-1991; Poland 
Date of Recording: 08/1992 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 31 Minutes 54 Secs. 
19.
Quartet for Strings no 1, Op. 62 "Already it is dusk" by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; Poland 
Date of Recording: 07/1990 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 13 Minutes 58 Secs. 
20.
Different Trains by Steve Reich
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; USA 
Date of Recording: 1988 
Venue:  Russian Hill Recording, San Francisco 
Length: 26 Minutes 50 Secs. 
21.
Black Angels by George Crumb
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1970; USA 
Date of Recording: 06/1989 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 18 Minutes 16 Secs. 
22.
Cadenza on the Night Plain by Terry Riley
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; USA 
Date of Recording: 1997 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 30 Minutes 39 Secs. 
23.
G-Song by Terry Riley
Performer:  Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin), David Harrington (Violin),
Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1981; USA 
Date of Recording: 07/1997 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 9 Minutes 36 Secs. 
24.
Quartet for Strings no 2 by Alfred Schnittke
Performer:  John Sherba (Violin), Hank Dutt (Viola), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1980; USSR 
Date of Recording: 08/1994 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 21 Minutes 51 Secs. 
25.
Collected Songs Where Every Verse is Filled with Grief by Alfred Schnittke
Performer:  John Sherba (Violin), David Harrington (Violin), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello),
Hank Dutt (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984-1985; Russia 
Date of Recording: 05/1997 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 8 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Notes: This work was arranged by the Kronos Quartet from Schnittke's "Concerto
for Mixed Choir." 
26.
Quartet for Strings no 11 "Jabiru Dreaming" by Peter Sculthorpe
Performer:  John Sherba (Violin), David Harrington (Violin), Hank Dutt (Viola),
Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990-1991; Australia 
Date of Recording: 08/1992 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 12 Minutes 32 Secs. 
27.
Quartet for Strings no 8 by Peter Sculthorpe
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), David Harrington (Violin), John Sherba (Violin),
Hank Dutt (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; Australia 
Date of Recording: 08/1994 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 11 Minutes 54 Secs. 
28.
From Ubirr by Peter Sculthorpe
Performer:  Michael Brosnan (Didjeridu), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Mark Nolan (Didjeridu),
Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin), David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994 
Date of Recording: 02/1995 
Venue:  American Academy or Arts & Letters, NYC 
Length: 11 Minutes 12 Secs. 
29.
Memoirs of a Lost Soul: Tragedy at the Opera by P. Q. Phan
Performer:  David Harrington (Violin), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), Hank Dutt (Viola),
John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995 
Date of Recording: 07/1997 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 6 Minutes 29 Secs. 
30.
Quartet for Strings no 1 "White Man Sleeps" by Kevin Volans
Performer:  Hank Dutt (Viola), John Sherba (Violin), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello),
David Harrington (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; South Africa 
Date of Recording: 06/1989 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 22 Minutes 20 Secs. 
31.
Salome Dances for Peace: The gift by Terry Riley
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), David Harrington (Violin), Hank Dutt (Viola),
John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985-1986; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1988 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 15 Minutes 25 Secs. 
32.
Quartet for Strings no 4 by Alfred Schnittke
Performer:  David Harrington (Violin), Hank Dutt (Viola), Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello),
John Sherba (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USSR 
Date of Recording: 08/1996 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 34 Minutes 41 Secs. 
33.
Salome Dances for Peace: Good medicine by Terry Riley
Performer:  Joan Jeanrenaud (Cello), David Harrington (Violin), John Sherba (Violin),
Hank Dutt (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985-1986; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1988 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California 
Length: 13 Minutes 29 Secs. 

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