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Riley: Salome Dances for Peace / Kronos Quartet


Release Date: 10/20/1989 
Label:  Nonesuch   Catalog #: 79217   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Terry Riley
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 59 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Minimalist progenitor Terry Riley wrote this ambitious piece for Kronos. “The Quartet,” says the New York Times, “mingles Asian modes, static drones, Arabic melodic arabesques and non-tempered tunings with dissonant Bartókian counterpoint, bluesy inflections, jazzy syncopations, and Minimalist repetition.”

R E V I E W:

Admirers of Terry Riley's work, including his earlier string quartets, may not be prepared for Salome Dances for Peace. In reviewing his two-disc Gramavision Cadenza on the Night Plain five years ago, I noted that the shorter and earlier quartets included in the compilation seemed warm-up pitches for the title piece. Now it seems Cadenza was the last warm-up and the game has just begun in
Read more earnest.

The scope of Salome is epic. I refer not only to its length but also to its international eclecticism, range of moods and textures, and programmatic ambition.

That program is so bizarre and the music so much more engrossing that I'll merely note (1) the work treats a redeemed Salome's mission to establish peace in our time, 2000 years after her own, and (2) you should keep the program (ably detailed in Michael Swed's liner notes) out of your way until at least the second hearing.

One of the ironies of the term Minimalism is its denotation of works not only of this and greater length but incorporating a maximalism of stylistic influences. The syncretism of John Adams may be the most striking example, but Salome makes clear allusions to Turkey, Tibet, and Mongolia along with native-American music (and mythology) and native American music like jazz. The result is a unique musical voyage in five acts rather than movements, divided without break into—and on CD accessed as—twenty-three programmatic sections. The wildest of these, “Half Wolf Dances Mad in Moonlight,“ which refers to an American Indian shaman (though it sounds equally like Riley's Celtic blood inspired to boiling), was released previously on Kronos's excellent Winter Was Hard and surprised me at the time. On the opposite metabolic extreme “Echoes of Primordial Time“ reveals Riley at his most meditative and is at least equally engrossing in its starkness.

I've played this set over several weeks. I'm still not sure somehow what to make of it, assuming anything is to be “made,“ but on an emotional level I suspect it will find a place among the most respected works not only of Riley but of contemporary American music. The superbly nuanced playing of Kronos will do nothing to hurt its chances, nor will the obvious care taken with the project by Nonesuch.

This review feels inadequate. If you like canonic counterpoint or simulated shawms, hard rock or Trappist monasteries, you are hereby warmly invited to Salome Dances for Peace.

-- Edward Strickland, FANFARE [3/1990] Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Salome Dances for Peace by Terry Riley
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985-1986; USA 

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