- Lyric Suite, for string quartet
What is the cutting-edge Kronos Quartet -- unflagging advocates of the avant-garde -- doing playing music from the 1930s? Well, this isn't just any music; it's one of Alban Berg's late masterpieces, an intensely lyrical and profoundly romantic six-movement suite for string quartet. Since Kronos play so much that is novel, it's easy to forget what a fine ensemble they are, and they sail through the technical difficulties of this rhythmically intricate score. What may surprise, though, is how naturally gemütlich their playing is. After all, the Lyric Suite holds the illicit evidence of the composer's clandestine love affair with Hanna Fuchs-Robettin, and the music is filled with private messages. One of these is actually a vocal part, a setting the text of "De profundis clamavi" from Charles Baudelaire's Les fleurs du mal, though this secret song was found only recently in a copy of the suite especially prepared by Berg for Fuchs-Robettin. Here, for the first time on disc, the vocal line can be heard, sung with heart-wrenching passion and unearthly beauty by Dawn Upshaw. Packaged as a "CD single," the Suite is presented without a coupling but at a special low price.