The Kronos Quartet:
In Accord, DVD Video

"In Accord" presents key works of American string quartet extraordinaire The Kronos Quartet, enhanced by video footage and interspersed comments of Kronos-members on the musical pieces performed and why they chose them.

Kronos Quartet have been around for a while: way back in 1973, violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, cellist Joan Jeanrenaud (replaced by Jennifer Culp in 1999), and viola-player Hank Dutt decided to form a string quartet that would go beyond the limitations of classical music. In a way, they should pave the way for the "crossover"-movement mixing elements of classical, jazz and pop-music. And Kronos have been quite successful too, playing to sold-out venues all over the world.

Their first DVD, ambiguously titled "In Accord", is a collection of works that are closely linked to Kronos. The group have always been eager to point out that they choose the works they play very carefully, hence the diversity of musical genres illustrates the creative bandwidth of Kronos Quartet. Kronos have definitely widened the horizons of millions of listeners and successfully introduced them to new and challenging music.

Of course a video-DVD gives the opportunity to present Kronos in a new way by visually enhancing their music. Director Manfred Waffender has tried to meet the unconventional attitude Kronos stands for and combined unusual stage lighting, special effects, video and Super-8 recordings in order to underline the outstanding musical performance.

Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla's odd South-American dancemusic "Four, For Tango" opens the DVD, followed by "Cadenza on the Night Plain", a musical piece about American history Terry Riley has specially composed for Kronos. In Hamza El Din's composition "Escalay" (water wheel), a tribute to this characteristical machine of his homeland Nubia, Manfred Waffender has added a documentary video showing scenic shots from the Sudan. John Zorn contributes a composition that was inspired by American cartoon movies and their inherent violence, hence the ironic title "Cat o' Nine Tails".

It is followed by John Adam's rhythmically challenging "John's Book of Alleged Dances", Early Music represented by Hildegard of Bingen's "O Virtus Sapientie" and Perotin's "Viderunt Omnes" (visually enhanced by shots from ruins and abandoned cemetaries), cosmopolitan composer Harry Partch's "Two Studies on Ancient Greek Scales" and postmodernist Russian composer Alfred Schnittke's dark-toned, aptly titled "Collected Songs where every verse is filled with grief". Kronos perform Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz' "Altar de Muertos" (a tribute to the Mexican "Day of the Dead") on a specially adapted stage, wearing Mexican masks to intensify the musical statement. Last but certainly not least comes one of Kronos' favorite Songs: "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix, arranged for string quartet.

"In Accord" shows some of the highlights of Kronos Quartet's oeuvre. The visuals could have been a little more inspired, but then again, with a Kronos release, it' s always the music that matters in the first place.

Label: Arthaus.




"In Accord" DVD presents Kronos key works