For more than 40 years, the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet has traversed wide and adventurous creative territory- everything from the minimalism of Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Steve Reich, to film scores (including Requiem for a Dream), and the music of Astor Piazzolla and Jimi Hendrix. The group has commissioned 750 new works. Their over 47 albums include Pieces of Africa (1992), the Mexican-themed Nuevo (2002), and a 2004 Grammy Award-winning recording of Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite with soprano Dawn Upshaw.
Folk Songs, the latest Kronos album, released Friday on the Nonesuch label, offers colorful and atmospheric settings of American, English, Irish, and French folk songs. The Quartet collaborates with vocalists, Sam Amidon, Olivia Chaney, Rhiannon Giddens, and Natalie Merchant.
Here is an excerpt from the album. I See the Sign is American folk artist Sam Amidon’s “recomposition” of a traditional Appalachian song. The arrangement is by Nico Muhly:
Photograph by Jay Blakesberg