Kronos Quartet

David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello) has pursued a singular artistic vision, combining a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to expanding the range and context of the string quartet. In the process, Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential groups of our time, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 45 recordings of extraordinary breadth and creativity, collaborating with many of the world's most eclectic composers and performers, and commissioning more than 700 works and arrangements for string quartet. Kronos' work has also garnered numerous awards, including a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance (2004) and "Musicians of the Year" (2003) from Musical America.

Kronos' adventurous approach dates back to the ensemble's origins. In 1973, David Harrington was inspired to form Kronos after hearing George Crumb's Black Angels, a highly unorthodox, Vietnam War-inspired work featuring bowed water glasses, spoken word passages, and electronic effects. Kronos then began building a compellingly diverse repertoire for string quartet, performing and recording works by 20th-century masters (Bartok, Shostakovich, Webern), contemporary composers (Aleksandra Vrebalov, John Adams, Alfred Schnittke), jazz legends (Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk), and artists from even farther afield (rock guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, Azeri vocalist Alim Qasimov, avant-garde saxophonist John Zorn).

Integral to Kronos' work is a series of long-running, in-depth collaborations with many of the world's foremost composers. One of the quartet's most frequent composer-collaborators is Father of Minimalism Terry Riley, whose work with Kronos includes the early Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector; Cadenza on the Night Plain and Salome Dances for Peace; 2002's Sun Rings, a multimedia, NASA-commissioned ode to the earth and its people, featuring celestial sounds and images from space; and The Cusp of Magic, commissioned in honor of Riley's 70th birthday celebrations in 2005 and recorded and released in 2008. Kronos commissioned and recorded the three string quartets of Polish composer Henryk Mikolaj Górecki, with whom the group has been working for more than 20 years. The quartet has also collaborated extensively with composers such as Philip Glass, recording his complete string quartets and scores to films like Mishima and Dracula (a restored edition of the Bela Lugosi classic); Azerbaijan's Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, whose works are featured on the full-length 2005 release Mugam Sayagi: Music of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh; Steve Reich, whose Kronos-recorded Different Trains earned a Grammy; Argentina's Osvaldo Golijov, whose work with Kronos includes both compositions and extensive arrangements for albums like Kronos Caravan and Nuevo; and many more.
Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1989 Thelonius Monk greatest hits by string quartet 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Ron Carter - Bass
Kronos Quartet
1992 Pieces of Africa 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

The album consists of commissions from African composers working at varying distances from European conventions. But whereas Byrne and Simon arguably used the music of Brazil or South Africa as backgrounds over which to display their own egos, the Kronos Quartet's members managed to sublimate themselves in service to the compositions, never giving the listener any sense of condescension. All of which is to say that Pieces of Africa is a very beautiful recording with several superb individual works. Zimbabwe's Dumisani Maraire's opening piece, "Mai Nozipo," with the composer accompanying the quartet on drums, is a rousing, triumphant anthem with a resonant melodic line that will long linger. Thematically, most of the pieces draw on African sources, very clearly in the case of the Arabic-infused songs of Hassan Hakmoun and the great Sudanese composer Hamza el Din. Unsurprisingly, South African Kevin Volan's "White Man Sleeps" comes closest to European traditions, though even this piece, which is gorgeous and inspired throughout, draws inspiration from native environmental sounds. The disc closes with another composition by Maraire, with an accompanying gospel choir making explicit the link between Africa's music and that of the American South. Pieces of Africa teems with beguiling melodies, making it one of this quartet's more accessible projects and also one of its best.

Kronos Quartet

1993 Nuevo 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Digital - Elliott Sharp
Spoonful - Willie Dixon (arr. Steven Mackey)
Spectre - John Oswald
Cat O' Nine Tails (Tex Avery Directs the Marquis de Sade) - John Zorn
Quartet Euphometric - Henry Cowell
Physical Property - Steven Mackey
Soliloquy from How It Happens (The Voice of I. F. Stone) - Scott Johnson
Quartet No. 2 - Sofia Gubaidulina
Aba kee tayk hamaree - Pandit Pran Nath

Kronos Quartet

1994 The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

It was inspired by the medieval rabbi known as Isaac the Blind, a mystic who believed that all things happen as the result of combinations of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Golijov uses the building blocks of music to tease the same cosmic mysteries in a work that echoes the joy and sorrow, the passion and reason of the entire Jewish experience. Sometimes the music rocks with the sound of klezmer, sometimes it merely, hypnotically seems to breathe. The Kronos Quartet's riveting new recording with clarinetist David Krakauer makes it an unforgettable experience.

David Krakauer - Clarinet
Kronos Quartet

2002 Nuevo 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Mexican Folk Music

Guests:
Cafe Tacuba, Luis Conte, Alejandro Flores, Carlos Garcia, Ariel Guzik, Tambuco Percussion Ensemble, Efren Vargas, Luanne Warner

Kronos Quartet

2002-2003 Tenebrae 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Composition by Osvaldo Golijov

Kronos Quartet