Kronos Quartet

25 Years: Retrospective

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The 20th century has not been kind to most standard classical music forms. The piano sonata, the concerto, the symphony -- none of them have disappeared entirely, but none remain in a state that could be called even remotely healthy. The same was true of the string quartet until 1973, when violinist David Harrington got some friends together to play contemporary music and offered his old high-school composition teacher a bag of donuts if he'd write a piece for them. The resulting composition was the first of over 400 works that have been written for the Kronos Quartet over the course of the following 25 years, a period which has seen the revitalization of the previously moribund string quartet format. But Kronos has done more than simply triple the size of the string quartet repertoire; by focusing on living composers, by cultivating a somewhat rebellious image, and by playing with impeccable professionalism and skill, Kronos has brought a new and primarily young audience to classical music. This massive ten-disc retrospective includes performances of 31 major compositions, most previously released, but some in new recordings. There are none of the miniature works that fill so many of Kronos' individual albums; these are all long-form compositions, all but one presented in their entirety. They include two string quartets by Henryk Gorecki, Terry Riley's post-minimalist Cadenza on the Night Plain, Morton Feldman's Piano and String Quartet, three quartets by Philip Glass, and many others, but the highlights of the collection are the tremendously moving Different Trains by Steve Reich (who combined train sounds, multi-tracked string quartet, and the recorded voices of concentration camp survivors and Pullman porters to create a powerful and deeply personal statement on the Holocaust) and Alfred Schnittke's exquisite Collected Songs Where Every Verse Is Filled With Grief. The packaging is excellent as well, and includes a booklet packed with photos, essays, and notes on the individual composers and compositions.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 01:19:38
blue highlight denotes track pick