4 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Kronos Quartet have a long history of crossing multiple boundaries to collaborate with artists outside of their classical/avant-garde sphere. This time, they commissioned material from The National’s Bryce Dessner. The first three pieces here are minimalist in nature but have different points of inspiration. The terse title piece is centered around Dessner's family’s flight from Russia and Poland to America during WWII—the title “Aheym” is Yiddish for “homeward”—and he creates music that's often tense but never over the edge. “Little Blue Something” is a tip of the hat to the early Czech music, while “Tenebre” rotates through a series of highly textured ideas that concludes with vocals by Sufjan Stevens and multiple overdubs of the quartet. Based on the setting of a poem by Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro, the final piece features Kronos, a band led by Dessner, and The Brooklyn Youth; it builds using interlocking figures with different groups sending ideas back and forth. The National’s hardcore fans may find this interesting, but Aheym is truly a contemporary classical effort, and a good one at that.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Kronos Quartet have a long history of crossing multiple boundaries to collaborate with artists outside of their classical/avant-garde sphere. This time, they commissioned material from The National’s Bryce Dessner. The first three pieces here are minimalist in nature but have different points of inspiration. The terse title piece is centered around Dessner's family’s flight from Russia and Poland to America during WWII—the title “Aheym” is Yiddish for “homeward”—and he creates music that's often tense but never over the edge. “Little Blue Something” is a tip of the hat to the early Czech music, while “Tenebre” rotates through a series of highly textured ideas that concludes with vocals by Sufjan Stevens and multiple overdubs of the quartet. Based on the setting of a poem by Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro, the final piece features Kronos, a band led by Dessner, and The Brooklyn Youth; it builds using interlocking figures with different groups sending ideas back and forth. The National’s hardcore fans may find this interesting, but Aheym is truly a contemporary classical effort, and a good one at that.

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