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Nuevo
     

Nuevo

by Kronos Quartet
 
The celebrated string quartet continue to astound with this richly hued valentine to the music and people of Mexico. Nuevo takes the Kronos Quartet's usual genre-bending fare and kicks it up a notch with spicy samples, kitschy covers, and a vast survey of Mexican music that ranges from the northern border with the U.S. to the

Overview

The celebrated string quartet continue to astound with this richly hued valentine to the music and people of Mexico. Nuevo takes the Kronos Quartet's usual genre-bending fare and kicks it up a notch with spicy samples, kitschy covers, and a vast survey of Mexican music that ranges from the northern border with the U.S. to the Indians of Chiapas in the south, encompassing television themes, prayers, experimental instruments, and, of course, mariachis. Working with noted Latin American rock producers Gustavo Santaolalla and Anibal Kerpel and arrangers Osvaldo Golijov and Stephen Prutsman, Kronos -- David Harrington and John Sherba, violin; Hank Dutt, viola; and Jennifer Culp, cello -- break nearly every rule of the classical string quartet. On the opener, "El Sinaloense," their close-miked sawing emulates the bright blare of brass-band music; the hoary "Perfidia" finds the quartet multitracked to 101 Strings lushness. A winking arrangement of lounge-music pioneer Esquivel's "Mini Skirt" has fun with stereo panning and wacky sound effects (all produced on strings). Such derring-do could easily distract from the compositions and the performance, a risk Kronos seem willing to take in this embrace of Mexico as a post-modern pastiche. But a handful of longer compositions, notably the elegiac interpretation of a processional from the Chiapan Indian village of Chamula, give them ample opportunity to prove their mettle as players. Even an arrangement of children's-show theme songs gets a refined, chamber music recital. But it's clear, from the appealing format to the guest vocalists and percussionists -- not to mention the dance remix! -- that the audience for Nuevo is a broad one. All the better for bringing Kronos's inventive and varied vision of Mexico to the ears of its nearest neighbor.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
It's sort of like comedian Eddie Murphy and his family of film alter egos called the Klumps -- even if you're not a fan of the Kronos Quartet, you can't help but be bowled over by the sheer quantity and quality of the impersonations they accomplish on their Nuevo album. The project sets itself the task of evoking Mexican music in all its awe-inspiring variety, so the quartet steps into the roles of mariachi band (on "El sinaloense"), symphony orchestra (in an arrangement of Revueltas' "Sensemaya"), son huasteco ensemble ("El llorar"), 1960s easy listening session band (on Esquivel's "Mini Skirt" of 1968), Mexican pop vocal soloist and accompanying strings (on several numbers), home electronics studio on Ariel Guzik's "Plasmaht," as well as several less classifiable ones. Recorded Mexican street sounds and conversations are interspersed between and within pieces, a novel hip-hop-like effect, and the disc closes with a full-fledged dance remix by Plankton Man of the opening mariachi number in which several musical worlds wondrously seem to meet. The Kronos displays its usual knack for finding gifted collaborators here. The Mexican art rock group Café Tacuba makes an appearance, and a major unseen presence is the underrated Argentine-Israeli-American composer Osvaldo Golijov, who arranged the bulk of the music for string quartet and did a fabulous job of making the quartet sound neither grafted-on nor overbearing. There are certainly a lot of layers here, and time will tell whether they have much to reveal beyond postmodernism-on-your-sleeve coolness. In the meantime, this recording is a hell of a lot of fun -- Amazon UK calls it "foremost a party record," and when was the last time a classical disc got reviewed like that? Prepare to be amazed.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/09/2002
Label:
Nonesuch
UPC:
0075597964929
catalogNumber:
79649

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