Search - Suzanne Elder, Paul Hillier, David Krakauer :: Kronos Quartet: 25 Years [Box Set]

Kronos Quartet: 25 Years [Box Set]
Suzanne Elder, Paul Hillier, David Krakauer
Kronos Quartet: 25 Years [Box Set]
Genres: Jazz, Classical
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (1) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #4
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #5
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #6
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #7
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #8
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #9
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #10

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...  more »


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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

CD Reviews

How Could You Not Listen?
S. Hawkins | 12/18/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"My opinion pales when compared to this CD. Indeed the group's ingeniousness, its knowing and its balls are in full display here, hopefully to put to rest any lingering contention that there is little more to Kronos than form. To any person who accepts the merits of 20th-century music, this CD presents the genius of our culture and teaches that daring and ingenuity do not have to be sacrificed on the road to technical brilliance. My only regret is that the CD does not include Kronos's interpretation of Bartok. But, so what? Górecki's here, as are Part and Benshoof. Listen to this CD -- soar and struggle with it."
A worthwhile investment
S. Hawkins | New York, NY | 10/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It would be an understatement to say that this is a fabulous box set. All 10 CDs are packed with some fabulous music that beautifull highlights the first 25 years of the Kronos Quartet, and the booklet included provides a great history of the group as well as nice blurbs on the composers and their pieces.Equally nice about the box set is the inclusion of multiple new recordings, thus making this a worthwhile investment for fans. The Peter Sculthorpe Quartets are a particularly nice addition, as are the added Piazzolla, Part, and Riley compositions.Along with this, the "classic" Kronos recordings are all here: "Black Angels" "Different Trains" "Salome Dances for Peace" (well, exceprts), and Feldman's Piano and String Quartet. Of particular note, I think is the inclusion of Gubaidulina's Quartet No 4, a fabulous recording that is otherwise hidden in Kronos' recording "Night Prayers."Yes, this is quite an investment, but I firmly believe that it's worth it - longtime fans and newcomers alike have a lot to gain from this collection."
A must
G.D. | Norway | 11/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is really a set to treasure. The Kronos quartet's credentials, along with the Ardittis, as champions of new music are not in question, but whereas the Ardittis champions the avant-garde end of the spectrum, the Kronos focuses on the more, shall we call it "post-avantgardish" composers. Thus, Kronos has, in addition to playing and commissioning music by leading contemporary composers - in particular those associated with minimalism - made forays into world- and non-western (and even pop) music. Indeed, it is perhaps striking that none of the composers featured on this set are, at least originally, from Western Europe (but there is, to be fair, a disproportionate number of Americans here). Still, the material - mostly reissued from earlier Kronos releases - displays a wide variety of styles, from uncompromising avant-gardism (Feldman and Crumb), through the tintinnabuli style of Pärt and the non-western foundations of e.g. Sculthorpe and Volans, to the crossover borderline contributions from Golijov and Piazzolla. And that they are without exception up to the widely variegated technical demands (in the case of Gubaidulina and Reich also involving multiple quartets and multi-tracking) is beyond doubt. And despite the wide variety of musical styles, they (as everyone acquainted with the Kronos quartet would expect) bring their own individual sound to every piece, perhaps even a little bit too much so (it would be interesting to hear what some of the material here sounded like in other hands). In several of the works they also join forces with other performers such as the clarinetist David Kracauer (Golijov), the pianist Aki Takahashi (Feldman), singers Hargis, Elder, Rogers and Hillier (Pärt) and even didjeridoo players Michael Brosnan and Mark Nolan (Sculthorpe).

The first disc opens with John Adams' `John's Book of Alleged Dances', an irresistibly chatty set of `dances for which the steps have yet to be invented'. While I am, perhaps, personally not John Adams' biggest fan, this set is an extension of the style of (his masterpiece) the chamber symphony. It is juxtaposed with several offerings from Arvo Pärt, among other things a string quartet version of `Fratres' (works rather well), and the extremely concise but ultimately perhaps not very memorable `Missa Syllabica'.

The second disc consists of music by Ken Benshoof (the not very memorable `Traveling Music', probably included because it was the Kronos' first commissioned piece, and the far more interesting, later Song of Twenty Shadows) and Astor Piazzolla - in the latter case his 5 Tango Sensations, probably worthwhile for those who generally warm to his music, and the short, aggressive Four, for tango, which is fascinating even to those who don't.

The third disc is allocated to Feldman's `Piano and String Quartet', an uncompromisingly feldmanesque, static - but quite mesmerizing - work, and the fourth disc to four string quartets signed Philip Glass. These are in fact excellent works, surprisingly fresh, inventive and variegated, and probably belong among the absolutely best on this composer's huge and hugely variable work-list. The fifth disc contains the perhaps most immediately approachable work, Osvaldo Golijov's `The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind', a stirringly atmospheric, visionary and almost hysteric kletzmer-based work. It is interestingly contrasted with Sofia Gubaidulina's compelling but far more concentration-requiring fourth quartet and Ali-Zadeh's atmospheric but overlong Azerbaijani folk music inspired `Mugam Sayagi'.

The sixth disc presents Henryk Gorecki's (then) two quartets, strident and rather abrasive pieces that would serve as a refreshing anti-dote to anyone who has experienced his famous elegiac third symphony. The seventh disc is allotted to the music of Terry Riley, the rather uninteresting, if intermittently pleasant, `Cadenza on the Night Plain', and `In g', the somewhat pale and inconsequential follow-up to his famous In C. Far more interesting are the excerpts from `Salome Dances for Peace', but on the whole this is probably the least interesting disc in the set. By contrast, the eighth disc contains two already classic masterpieces, Steve Reich's harrowing `Different Trains', and George Crumb's even more harrowing - terrifying, even - take on Schubert's `Death and the Maiden' and the Vietnam war in `Black Angels'.

The ninth disc is given to Alfred Schnittke's second and fourth string quartets and an arrangement of a section from his choir concerto. These are dark, stirring and immensely worthwhile personal utterances. The last disc represent the most non-Western based music in the set, with Sculthorpe's take on Australian Aboriginal music (complete with didjeridoos - without sounding at all gimmicky - in `From Ubirr' ), a short piece from P.Q. Phan and the South-African Kevin Volans' already classic first string quartet `White Man Sleeps' - also possibly deserving of the epithet `masterpiece'.

This excellently played and broad survey is, in short, probably the best possible introduction to the (more or less) contemporary post-avant-garde. Even the design and the presentation are exquisite. Strongly recommended."