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30 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 9, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Nuevo" is something of a near-hallucinatory journey in sound. A bawdy song from Mazatlan, a romantic standard of the 60's, "space-age bachelor pad music" of Esquivel, foot-stomping party music, a percussion-laden concert work, a prime-time Mexican TV theme, a mariachi tune, and an extraordinary five-part sonic portrait of contemporary Mexico by Cafe Tacuba are only some of the ingredients in a kaleidoscopic, mesmerizing melange of music spanning some 100 years. Beginning with their breakthrough project "Pieces of Africa" in 1991, some of the most compelling recordings in the Kronos discography have resulted from their collaborative explorations of musical programs drawn from a particular country or region of the world. With "Nuevo" - a project based entirely around Mexican composers, musical traditions, and influences - they have delivered one of their most striking group odysseys to date. Produced by Gustavo Santaolalla, both an authority of Latin American art music as well as the most in-demand producer of rock en espanol, the album also features a host of great artists from both the concert hall as well as the streets of Mexico.

To say that the Kronos Quartet's Nuevo is their most adventurous outing to date is hardly an understatement. This diverse collection of Mexican compositions and traditional tunes brims with an unpredictable energy and a dazzling array of Latin American guest performers, and, yes, Kronos keeps up throughout. A cocktail pop tune from Esquivel gets covered, there's a chamber arrangement of Revueltas's sprawling orchestral work Sensemaya, and Nortec Collective member Plankton Man remixes Kronos's interpretation of "El Sinaloense" into a sizzling dance music track, which closes the disc. The playing is spirited, to say the least (just check out "El Llorar," with guest vocalists Alejandro Flores and Efren Vargas). But this is foremost a party record. A bevy of reverb effects and instrumentation (including a squeaky musical leaf solo on "Perfidia") ensures that things stay unpredictable. Production work by Rock en Espanol producer Gustavo Santaolalla infuses this disc with an edgy modernism. The bulk of these compositions have been arranged by composer Osvaldo Golijov, who seemingly brings a manic energy and a playfulness to everything he touches. Chamber music purists may scoff, but the rest of us will be busy dancing and thrilling to this exciting, genre-blurring Kronos project. --Jason Verlinde

Product Details

  • Composer: Severiano Briseno, Agustin Lara, Juan Garcia Esquivel, Traditional, Alberto Dominguez, et al.
  • Audio CD (April 9, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000063NCZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,115 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Leonardo on November 4, 2005
Format: Audio CD
If you by chance still don't know what Kronos`s is about remember that there are two types of chamber music ensembles: Kronos and the rest. So if you have in your mind the traditional sound, aesthetic of a string quartet, go for the rest (Alban Berg, Ittaliano, Melos, Emerson...) and forget Kronos. For if I had only one chance to apply the title- word "avant-garde", I would do it concerning Kronos. They are irreverent. Forget traditional repertoire (and Bartok is traditional for them). As far as I know they play modern music (Glass, Reich, Scnittke) or new repertoire like World Music. They play with amazing virtuosism and richness of textures. If you try to explore Kronos world, open your mind to a new, non conventional type of sounds.

So what is "Nuevo"? A diverse, impressive, multilayered (that is, there are several strata, several kind od compositions) portrait of Mexican music. A comprehensive landscape of Mexican music. But ... not exactly mexican music is what you hear in most of the tracks, but the Kronos' POINT OF VIEW, that is, Mexico through Kronos' glasses. For I don`t find a truly traditional Mexican track (perhaps only "Son Huasteca" and that before 12/12 are those which most resemble to a truly traditional "Mexican" sound). Almost everything in this rich album is a new way of listening to mexican music.

Why? Arrangements are varied and colourfull. Every track shows novelty and spontaneity, even in well known pieces like "Perfidia" or "Sensemaya". All in this CD is "Nuevo (New)": music that you have not listened before, no matter your knowledge on Mexican music!!

The type of music is quite diverse: classical (Sensemaya), TV music (Chavosuite), bolero (Perfidia), local music (Sinaloense), processional music (12/12), even dance music!!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By jaime carrera on May 20, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Ranging from folkloric to post-modern, "Nuevo" displays Kronos Quartet's pure love of Mexico's wide spectrum of musical history. From jarabes and sones ("El Sinaloense" and "El Llorar") to reinterpretations of work from some of Mexico's most beloved composers (torch song legend Agustin Lara and space age bachelor Esquivel) and collaborations with contemporary mexican artists (punk-folk-ambient pioneers Cafe Tacuba and Plankton Man of hybrid electronica outfit Nortec Collective) this cd has it all. There's even a tribute to mexican comic Roberto Gomez Bolanos' variety show "Chespirito" ("Chavosuite") with the theme music to two of his most popular characters: El Chavo and El Chapulin Colorado. with Mr. Gomez Bolanos himself and his wife Florinda Meza (two of Mexico's most beloved comic actors) chanting the lines from the long-running show. Which proved to me that the Kronos Quartet trully did their homework for this album. An absolute treasure!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By a1 on May 1, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This is the Kronos Quartet, but it is NOT the difficult, arty-experimental-edge music that they often do. The reviewer below who said this is a jarring CD was absolutely without a doubt mistaken about which CD he was reviewing. This is by far the most accesible Kronos CD yet, with every track sweet to the ears. It is a fanciful record of music from and inspired by Mexico. And the composers do a great job of evoking the spirit of Mexico, with traditional rhythms, instruments, harmonies, and so on. Some of these tracks toy with the stereotypical elements of mariachi or chickenscratch. Most of the songs are built on festive melodies, but a few tracks are more abstract and free form, one of which is a beautiful pastiche of recordings from around a Mexican cafe. I put "String" in quotes because there is never a point where it sounds like just a bare string quartet; their instruments are always amplified, sometimes pedal distorted, and often joined by other instrumentalists, vocalists, and samples. You can tell they just had a ton of fun making this recording - there's a buoyant feeling throughout. This is a deligtful album with broad appeal and easily one of the best of 2002.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 9, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Describe this is not easy but it is impecceble produced and played, give a nice touch of Mexican folkmusic and has both classical and surrealistic moments.
Perfect listen carefully too AND use as a background music with more or less sober guest :-).
This Kronos Quartet give us a lot of stuff... modern, contemporary classic, moviemusic, older stuff and this more folkmusic style. I had bought at least 100 records so far this year and this one is one of the most innovative.
If you like classic music, folkmusic, humour, style, bittersweet emotions, viola, violin, cello, marimbas, excellent sound and production, good performers this is for you. Classical purists should go somewhere else.
Highly recommended
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By juan c diaz del castillo on July 25, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I had to listen to it !
Well, first I must say that it is very rewarding to find such a talented international ensemble to interpret our music. Some of the tracks are really outstanding. Particularly 12/12 and the Chavosuite.
But, in the other hand, the purposely out of tune interpretation of El Sinaloense is deceiving (do our Mariachis sound so terrible ?) and the solo wistle in "Perfida" really destroyed the sesibility and charm of this melody. I mean, why on earth did't they play it with a violin instead ?
For the rest, it is a very original album, and it shurely reflects the impression that causes our culture. The inclusion of live sounds in a marketplace and of the "carretonero" buying old shoes and clothes, makes a specially beautiful ambiance.
It is also an album with a very humorous approach. (Some of the tracks sound like if they had been arranged by P.D.Q. Bach !) Get it if you are looking for something original and different, but please buy something else if you really want to know what mexican music is.
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