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Kronos 25: Discs 5/6

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Title : Kronos 25: Discs 5/6
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Kronos 25: Discs 5/6

Nice diverse repertoire on Disc 5:
  • Osvaldo Golijov: The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind (1994)
  • Sofia Gubaidulina: Quartet No. 4 (1993)
  • Franghiz Ali-Zadeh: Mugam Sayagi (1993)
Whatever happened to poor Osvaldo? A few years back he was in high demand, but then a couple of accusations of plagiarism surfaced and he was unable to deliver some new commissions on time and then he just disappeared. The piece on this disc is a lovely example of cultural globalism: intense, wailing klezmer music written by a Jewish composer born in Argentina, educated in Israel and the US and played by some folks from California.

Gubaidulina is currently one of my favorite composers for her spiritual yet exploratory music and because she has written quite a lot for guitar. In her Quartet No. 4 she uses a number of unique techniques including ricocheting a ball off the strings. There are also two prerecorded quartet parts. The piece is in one brief, twelve minute, movement. The ricochet effect makes the strings sound like an eerie quartet of skeletal mandolins.

Ali-Zadeh is an Azerbaijani composer educated in Western Europe and currently living in Germany like Gubaidulina she has explored the folk traditions of her country and incorporated them into her musical conceptions.

The three composers are connected to three different religious traditions: Judaism, Russian Orthodox and Islam.

Disc 6 has two quartets by Henryk Górecki. They are in reverse order on the disc:

  • Quasi una Fantasia, Quartet No. 2 (1990-91)
  • Already it is Dusk, Quartet No. 1 (1988)
Górecki is of course best known for his Symphony No. 3 which in 1993 stormed not only the classical charts but also the popular ones in Europe. Both of his quartets were written for Kronos. Sometimes his music is described as "spiritual minimalism" akin to that of Arvo Pärt. The Quartet No. 2 takes its time developing short enigmatic motifs. Górecki is not only strongly influenced by folk music, he is also a devout Catholic and elements of Polish liturgical chant can also be found in his music.

How odd, in a supposed post-religious world, that all of the composers on these two discs are influenced by their religious roots and traditions.

Here is the Quartet No. 1 by Górecki in the Kronos recording (isn't it odd that you can search for the Kronos recordings on YouTube, but you can't embed them?):

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