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Short Stories

3.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 9, 1993
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 9, 1993)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: © 1993 Elektra Entertainment
  • ASIN: B000005J1X
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,353 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is one absolutely brilliant collection of compositions, from the beginning to the end of this CD, offering 75 minutes of music. It starts with a vivid and pulsating Digital, continues with Willie Dixon's Spoonful, transformed here into some sort of avant-garde blues (!?) performed with an intensity of Jimi Hendrix. Cat O' Nine Tails, appropriately subtitled as "Tex Avery Directs the Marquis de Sade", is a graphic performance, and with its humor, witty references and brief genre zip-zapping throughout the piece it's characteristic for John Zorn. Steven Mackey plays electric guitar with the Kronos Quartet in his own energetic and exiting piece, Physical Property.
Scott Johnson's 13 minutes long Soliloquy makes me think that I have an advantage in not being a native English speaker because the sense of music of the foreign language always remains (at least to me it does). The inherent music in one's own mother tongue with all its melody, rhythm and texture usually goes unnoticed. By using the short edited parts, or "loops", of I.F. Stone's lecture I feel Kronos does exactly that: brings out the music of the English language and accentuates it with their own instrumental backing. It's a functional and artistically justified method, I feel, justified by the beauty of the composition and the text itself.
One of the highlights of the CD is certainly Sofia Gubaidulina's Quartet No. 2. It brings a sense of eeriness and menace, maintaining the suspense, not unlike some of impressive and disturbing compositions of Krzysztof Penderecki. It would certainly quality as "musica non grata" to the totalitarian Soviet regime of the former USSR, Gubaidulina's country of birth.
John Oswald's Spectre is an experience for itself.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Love this! The Kronos Quartet is like no other. Totally innovative and unexpected. Short Stories is no exception. Warning!!! You must have an open mind (and ear) to this style of music. It is simply "out there" but the creativity is unsurpassed.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Having recently revisited this recording, I find it fascinating but not quite as engaging as some of Kronos other releases. Some of the music strikes me as novelties that may not have a lot of staying power (Sharp's Digital, Oswald's Spectre, Zorn's Cat O' Nine Tails and the rather odd Spoonful arrangement that doesn't really improve on Eric, Ginger and Jack's take on the classic blues number). Some dig a little deeper (Mackey's Physical Property, Nath's Aba kee tayk hamaree). There are a couple of works that leave a lasting impression (Cowell's brief but compelling Quartet and Gubaidulina's mysterious 3rd Quartet) and one good idea that doesn't quite come off (Johnson's Soliloquy; despite I.F. Stone's stirring message and some attractive music, the meshing of the two seems contrived and unconvincing - an attempt to emulate Steve Reich but without his uncanny knack for taunt but flexible voice settings). A mixed bag, but worth having for the high points.
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Format: Audio CD
SHORT STORIES is an outstanding collection of new music. "Digital" by Elliot Sharp is all percussion, presumably produced with violin, viola and cello. "Spoonful," the great Willie Dixon song, is arranged for strings much like "Purple Haze" before it. "Spectre," by John Oswald, probably best known for his electronic manipulations of the Grateful Dead, is a piece that starts out inaudibly, and then all of a sudden gathers into what sounds like a UFO taking off! Cowell's "Quartet Euphometric" is a short, lovely piece, the most conventional on the album.

And that leaves the five longer pieces, each one masterful in its own right, and adding to an amazing overall effect:

John Zorn's "Cat O' Nine Tails," in which he applies his quick change methodology to the string quartet to hilarious effect,

Steven Mackey's "Physical Property" for electric guitar and quartet, with stunning rhythms and textures,

Scott Johnson's "Soliloquy" featuring a tape of I.F. Stone, the radical journalist, who questions the persistence of barbarism and tribalism, and asks, "...is it necessary to repeat after 2,000 years all the things you people learned in Sunday school?! How -- how absent-minded -- how forgetful!",

Sofia Gubaidulina's "Quartet No. 2", a powerful and mystical meditation, and

Pandit Pran Nath's "Aba Kee Tayk Hamaree," with the voice of the North Indian master, and his disciple Terry Riley on tamboura, a reverent way to close, and the first chance for myself and many others, I'm sure, to hear him.

Of the Kronos releases I've heard, SHORT STORIES is the furthest out, with the least reference to the early 20th century, and the greatest risk-taking vis a vis the classical music establishment. It works! Fantastic!
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By A Customer on September 12, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is one of my favorites of several Kronos CDs, the only piece here that I usually have to skip being Scott Johnson's setting of a talk by I.F. Stone (and there's nothing wrong with what Stone says, it's just that the interminable repetitions Johnson edits into it are almost unbearable!). There's a snap and sense of fun here that makes it different from some Kronos collections, although the final cut by Pandit Pran Nath is a bit on the lugubrious side. John Zorn's piece, quirky as usual, is a highlight, as is Steven Mackey's contribution (including his arrangement of Willie Dixon's "Spoonful" and his electric guitar on "Physical Property"). Maybe I should give it 4 and a half.
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