Kronos at 40


A Thousand Thoughts

Kronos Quartet

Nonesuch CD


Kronos Explorer Series

Kronos Quartet

Nonesuch CD Boxed Set


To celebrate their fortieth year of activities, Kronos Quartet has two releases on the Nonesuch imprint. The first, A Thousand Thoughts, is a single CD compilation of previously unreleased and newly recorded tracks. All of the group’s cellists from throughout its history –  Joan Jeanrenaud, Jennifer Culp, Jeffrey Zeigler, and Sunny Yang – appear on the disc, as do a host of guest artists. The music is abundantly varied, including everything from a new piece by minimalist composer Terry Riley to arrangements of Asian folk music to a rousing rendition of “Danny Boy.” Thus, A Thousand Thoughts does an excellent job demonstrating Kronos Quartet’s versatility and catholicity of taste.


The Explorer Series boxed set goes deep into Kronos’s back catalog, reissuing five albums that helped to put the group, and their arranging aesthetics, on the map: Pieces of Africa (1992), Night Prayers (1994), Caravan (2000), Nuevo (2002), and Floodplain (2009). Taken as a collective listening project they help one to realize how formidable and far reaching Kronos’s influence has been. Today, many classical labels consider the incorporation of music from a number of ethnicities on their releases to be smart marketing. Composers of concert music feel liberated to explore their roots – or the music of other places and cultures. While many performers have advocated for classical music to be more inclusive in this way, the releases contained in the Explorer Series box helped by example to make it more possible. Forty years into the Kronos Quartet project, there’s a lot worth celebrating.

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