Their first release since 2009's critically acclaimed Floodplain, Music of Vladimir Martynov includes three works written for Kronos by the leading Russian composer: The Beatitudes (1998, rescored for Kronos, 2006), Schubert-Quintet (Unfinished) (2009), and Der Abschied (2006). Kronos' artistic director and founder David Harrington says Martynov's music "straddles various points of musical history and time; the music seems to me to reflect and absorb humanity in such a beautiful way."
Born in Moscow in 1946, Martynov was the son of a well-known musicologist and writer. He studied music from a young age and attended the Conservatory before expanding his musical pursuits beyond the traditional classical canon and into folk songs, early music, avant-garde, rock, and electronic music. In 1979, he entered the Spiritual Academy at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, where he worked on preserving and restoring traditional Russian Orthodox chant. He returned to composition in the 1990s with a new style that combined the traditions of American minimalism with the repetitive chant of Russian Orthodoxy.
For nearly four decades, the Kronos Quartet — David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola), and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello) — has pursued a singular artistic vision, combining a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to expanding the range and context of the string quartet. In the process, Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential groups of our time, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 45 recordings of extraordinary breadth and creativity, collaborating with many of the world's most eclectic composers and performers, and commissioning more than 750 works and arrangements for string quartet. In 2011, Kronos became the only recipients of both the Polar Music Prize and the Avery Fisher Prize, two of the most prestigious awards given to musicians. The group's numerous awards also include a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance (2004) and "Musicians of the Year" (2003) from Musical America.
27th January 2012
“Considering the CV of the Greek god Kronos — he castrated his father, married his sister and swallowed and regurgitated five of his children — the music played here by the Kronos Quartet is a definite anomaly. It floats quietly and radiates contemplation...Along the way there’s always interest in the cool Kronos sound, tempered here by period touches of slippery portamento.”
“The Kronos Quartet are certainly doing their bit to bring Martynov's music to a wider audience. This disc starts with a wonderfully controlled and projected string arrangement of one of Martynov's best-known works - the elegant, uplifting choral setting of the Beatitudes...It's an effective combination of directness and understatement”
“Performances (especially the lush Kronos-plus-one - Joan Jeanrenaud - in the Schubert-Quintet) and recordings are absolutely outstanding”