Kronos Quartet

Early Music (Lachrymae Antiquae)

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What's interesting about the latest outing from this prolific chamber group is not so much that they've chosen to create string quartet adaptations of music from the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance -- after all, these are folks who have commissioned arrangements of Jimi Hendrix and Bo Diddley, so we've learned not to be shocked -- but rather that they've chosen to juxtapose the works of Machaut, Pérotin and Tye with pieces by John Cage, Moondog and Harry Partch, among other twentieth-century notables. But maybe that shouldn't come as a surprise, either. It certainly makes lovely musical sense: the stark and static beauty of Arvo Pärt's Psalom fits perfectly with John Dowland's Lachrymae Antiquae (did that man never cheer up?) and John Cage's Quodlibet sounds just right next to Pérotin's "Viderunt Omnes." Was Cage poking fun at his composition teachers with a parody of the raw, open harmonies of the twelfth century? If so, the Kronos folks have turned his intent on its ear in a way that he himself would probably have loved. Puckishness, however, is not really on the agenda here: the overriding mood is one of sadness and devotion, as the album's subtitle (Latin for "ancient tears") makes clear. Like most of Kronos' best work, this is dark, lovely, eerie stuff.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Messe de Nostre Dame, mass for 4 voices
1 0:55 Amazon
2 1:44 Amazon
3 3:12 Amazon
4 3:56 Amazon
5 2:05 Amazon
6 3:41 Amazon
7 2:53 Amazon
8 2:09 Amazon
Messe de Nostre Dame, mass for 4 voices
9 0:45 Amazon
10 2:55 Amazon
3:54 Amazon
Synchrony for string quartet (6 other arrangements)
12 2:41 Amazon
String Quartet in Four Parts
13 1:29 Amazon
14 11:46 Amazon
Messe de Nostre Dame, mass for 4 voices
15 1:06 Amazon
16 3:07 Amazon
17 4:31 Amazon
18 3:20 Amazon
19 2:21 Amazon
Canon in Memoriam Igor Stravinsky, for string quartet
20 8:30 Amazon
Church Bells
1:27 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick