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The Kronos Quartet--apparently tired of performing some of the most riveting Western classical works composed in the last century--decided to take a vacation with Caravan. Where did they go? As evidenced by this globetrotting disc, seemingly everywhere. Music from the Middle East, South America, India, Portugal, and California (to name just a few) find their way onto this genre-blurring disc, along with a few surprises. They do a dizzying take on Dick Dale's "Miserlou," which we learn was originally written by Nicholas Roubanis in the '30s; perform a tune from India's bustling "Bollywood" film music industry; and tackle Terry Riley's inventive "Corgeo Funebre en el Monte Diablo"--the second movement of his Requiem for Adam (written for the late son of Kronos leader David Harrington). These are disparate but enthralling works that run the gamut from frenetic to reflective. Even though Caravan sounds less cohesive than Kronos's other world music foray, Pieces of Africa, this is still an enthralling collection and a must for Kronos fans. --Jason Verlinde
Top Customer Reviews
Most of this is exciting stuff, some of it quite beautiful at the same time. Of course I cannot vouch for the authenticity of any of it; but I can assure you that the Kronos Quartet is never below their standards here. They are, to be sure, joined by various musicians on 5 of the 10 tracks. The liner notes, which I assume will be the same when the fully packaged product is released, are copious and informative.
Osvaldo Golijov's arrangements excel at highlighting various effects of instrumental combinations. That's a plus. However, these performances are mostly shorn of whatever vitality is inherent in the compositions, by the quartet's lack of rhythmic unity and attack - some of these takes sound like tentative rehearsals. The worst in this respect has to be "Aaj Ki Raat". Anyone who knows Indian film music is aware of its energy and manic quality. This performance, however, has none of that, opting instead for a navel-gazing lack of dynamism that actually serves to bury the melodic theme, in lieu of which we are given the sound of tablas, which even Zakir Hussain can't make jive with the ennervated ensemble.
Not surprisingly, the only impassioned performance is "Turceasca", likely because most of the music is played by Taraf de Haidouks, a Romanian Gypsy ensemble that lends its "quaint" and "primitive" spunk to the tastemaker quartet, producing a "rousing, olde country" stewe.Read more ›
Then I heard of Kronos Quartet. They were raved about on a movie review for "Requiem for a Dream," which they are mostly responsible for the entire score on. So, I decided to give them a bit of a chance. I bought three of their albums, "Early Music," and "Kronos Quartet performs Phillip Glass." The most important of all of these is "Caravan."
The last CD I listened to, I was a little afraid to, because I figured I'd enjoy Western pieces a little more, and probably wouldn't like the more 'world' sound this album seems to say it has.
I couldn't have been more wrong, from the opening track, "Pannoia Boundless," I was in love, raving about it to everyone I knew. Every track seems to have an energy that oozes from within it, these dynamics that manage to grab me and toss me around every time. Even the weakest track, being "Cortejo Funebre en el Monte Diablo," because of the horribly synth-sounding beats, horns, and bells, still has a certain power after you get past the horrible intro of the song.
Either way, Kronos Caravan is a great listen for anyone just dabbling in classical string quartets and wants something a little more high power and intrusive than your average "background music."
I highly recommend it to those who wish to "get acquainted" with the KQ and don't know which CD to start from. This one, in my opinion, is more apt to satisfy the average music consumer than others by the KQ. Caravan has got a terrific vitality to it, a dynamism I haven't found in any of the other KQ CDs I've listened to so far. Also, in some tracks, it's got a rock-like sound to it, that will be familiar to those who - like myself - have always loved popular music but have just began approaching classical music.
Caravan's apparent simplicity of form mustn't deceive, however: yes, it is easy to listen to, and, yes, it is likely to satisfy unrefined listeners as well as sophisticated ones, but it is not an unchallenging work. Rather, I see it as multi-layered, stratified, allowing different levels of understanding.
My favorite track is Terry Riley's "Cortejo Funebre en el Monte Diablo," a perfect combination of past and present, of classical and "industrial" sounds. I can't praise this track enough: I find it alone to be well worth the price of the entire CD.
Caravan is definitely, and overall, a "five star" CD.
Most recent customer reviews
The positive part is that this is really good but I rank their last "Nuevo" higher because that one holds togheter better. Read morePublished on July 9 2002
I am a big fan of Kronos but this is frankly not their best work. The selection of music is as adventurous, featuring pieces from all over the globe. Read morePublished on July 17 2000 by J. Byrd
This CD is great in many ways. There is beatiful music from all over the world on this one. It's interesting 'cause it's rather easy listened, but still very deep and vital. Read morePublished on July 13 2000 by Mattias
Kronos has made an album to remember with Caravan. There is a wide variety of cultural music represented and all are performed admirably. Read morePublished on May 22 2000 by Prauge Traveler
The Kronos Quartet, known for performing Western classical music, has taken a world tour with Caravan, their new CD containing works from South America, India, Portugal, and the... Read morePublished on May 12 2000 by S. Asmar