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Released 1985-1995

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 24, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

For all its wide stylistic span and just plain good listening, Kronos's Released 1985-1995 is problematic in that it doesn't acknowledge the group's decade-long pre-Nonesuch history with so much as a footnote. That aside, Released, which celebrates the first ten years of the group's association with Nonesuch, is like a great mix tape, stringing pop-song-length selections from 11 albums to wonderful effect. It opens with a joyous Zimbabwean cross-cultural composition; segues into a brief tango by Astor Piazzolla; and goes on to comprise classic minimalism (Steve Reich, Terry Reilly, Philip Glass), a broader palette of 20th-century classical (Samuel Barber, Henryk Gorecki, George Crumb, Arvo Part), and work truly unique to the Kronos repertoire (Ben Johnston's arrangement of "Amazing Grace"). A second CD includes a live recording of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," a catchy rendering of a wacky Raymond Scott hodgepodge, a novelty homage to Elvis Presley, and a selection from Scott Johnson's extraordinary musical setting of readings by historian I.F. Stone. A great starter kit for Kronos newcomers. --Marc Weidenbaum
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Product Details

  • Performer: Kronos Quartet
  • Composer: Astor Piazzolla, Ben Johnston, Steve Reich, Henryk Gorecki, Terry Riley, et al.
  • Audio CD (October 24, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000005J3V
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,914 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I've been aware of the Kronos Quartet since WHITE MAN SLEEPS, but never took the plunge until now. What to do, when they've "released" so many records in the meantime? This sampler is the (near) perfect answer. It contains selections from 10 different albums. This serves both to give a sense of the breadth of the group's work (as well as the breadth of 20th century composition!), and also the flavor of some of their records if you decide to hear more.

It is astounding music --RELEASED works as a unified whole, with two exceptions in my opinion, and those are the excerpts from the Reich and Glass albums. I don't like Glass at all, and the Reich piece is underwhelming, so I simply edit those selections out. Most of the other tracks are nothing less than stellar: Johnston, Gorecki, Riley, Crumb, Part, Tahmizyan, and Barber.

The second disc ("Unreleased") is where my more serious dissatisfaction lies, and hence only 4 stars. You pay a 2-disc price, but this is not a full disc of music, and only 2 of the 4 selections really bear repeated listening. The Johnson track with sampled vocals by the great critic of U.S. imperialism I.F. Stone is fantastic (in a very '80s style), but the last two pieces are more novelty numbers. With all the material available, the second disc could easily contain many more cuts from the voluminous Kronos catalog. But with that caveat, I recommend this record. It sounds great in its own right, and it works quite well as a sampler.

On the strength of RELEASED I added BLACK ANGELS, NIGHT PRAYERS, and SHORT STORIES to my collection, and all are superb.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought this CD with no knowledge of what Kronos Quartet was all about. I don't have a sophisticated taste in classical music, with my preferences running more to Copeland, Dvorak, Handel, Barber, and Holst.....accessible music for many people. I bought this to expose myself to a different approach to classical music and for the most part have loved the ride. The track America-Before the War alone is worth the price of the CD....its meditation on a society just emerging with optimism from economic stagnation but simultaneously rushing into war is incredibly powerful.

There are obviously many old favorites like Amazing Grace, Barber's Adagio, and a classic rendition of Jimmy Hendrix. When you listen, though, you will appreciate the diversity of classical music....there's so much more to the catalog than most writers Top Fifty lists.
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Format: Audio CD
A sampler should be priced at sampler prices to get you to sample the label or artist, usually around $10. On this set, the first CD is 77 min. but the second is only 23 and mostly worthless, except for the Hendrix piece (Purple Haze) which they claim is unreleased though it appears in nearly identical form on the "Sculthorpe, Sallinen, Glass..." album, released 5 years before this one. The first CD is excellent, however, and merits a $2 marketplace purchase.
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