Album Review: A Thousand Thoughts by Kronos Quartet
Very Good, Based on 3 Critics
AllMusic - 70 Based on rating 7/10
A Thousand Thoughts, whose title comes from the traditional Swedish melody that opens the program, is not a release of new material but a compilation of prior Kronos Quartet performances that draw on international materials. They go back as far as 1989, but the majority come from after 2000, when this aspect of the group's repertoire has become more important. As such, reactions to them may well depend on whether listeners think this kind of experiment represents laudable curiosity or a drive-by approach to world music.
This is an album about distances, a record about the space inhabiting the “between” category. It is a geographical territory in the middle—that speck of earth perpetually missing from everyone’s map, which proudly dangles in a specific space-time dimension. This is an album about diversity without intellectual compromises. It is how it is because this is the way it is.
When you of think of the phrase ‘string quartet’, what comes to mind? Standing at a wedding reception, perhaps, while four overqualified musicians play “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” to a crowd of dapperly attired individuals who are far more interested in the open bar than the music, most likely. For forty years now, the Kronos Quartet have been forcing audiences to revise their expectations of the string quartet. They have, almost singlehandedly, overhauled the mainstream perception of chamber music, transforming it from light luncheon entertainment into a challenging, experimental genre.