Their first release since 2009's critically acclaimed Floodplain, Music of Vladimir Martynov includes three works written for Kronos by the leading Russian composer: The Beatitudes (1998, rescored for Kronos, 2006), Schubert-Quintet (Unfinished) (2009), and Der Abschied (2006). Kronos' artistic director and founder David Harrington says Martynov's music "straddles various points of musical history and time; the music seems to me to reflect and absorb humanity in such a beautiful way."
Pieces by nine very different composers make up this fascinating collection of works for string quartet entitled Short Stories, performed by the Kronos Quartet. Elliott Sharp's Digital (1986) is a hard-edged rhythmic study using the instrument bodies as drums, with objects inserted in the strings to create rattling, shaker, and tambourine-like sounds. Steve Mackey's arrangement (1989) of the classic Chicago blues tune "Spoonful" (1960), by the prolific Willie Dixon, exaggerates the gestures of the song and employs complex harmonies and modernistic devices like string crunches, etc. John Oswald's Spectre (1990) opens with the naive sound of the quartet tuning up.
The Kronos Quartet continues to broaden the repertoire for string quartet beyond the Western European tradition with Floodplain, an album of music all written or arranged for the ensemble. This album moves the ensemble even further afield from the conventional quartet; the players frequently double on folk instruments, and in one of the pieces they don't use their own instruments at all, but newly invented ones, created especially for this album. The selection of music is broadly eclectic and includes arrangements of a popular Arab song from 1940 and an ancient Christian hymn from Lebanon, a collaboration with a Palestinian electronic ensemble, and an original piece by a Serbian-American composer. The album has a number of guest artists, including the Azerbaijani Alim Qasimov Ensemble, Terry Riley playing tambura and Wu Man playing electric sitar.
Aheym Is an astonishing collaboration between National guitarist Bryce Dessner and journeyman new music string quartet the Kronos Quartet. Performing four compositions by Dessner,The Kronos Quartet champion an exciting young composer, continuing a history of presenting new and important works and composers that stretches back to their founding in 1973.