Nuevoby 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 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.
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Performance CreditsKronos Quartet Primary Artist
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