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Album review: Kronos Quartet: Music of Vladimir Martynov

February 8, 2012 | 10:00 am

Kronos Quartet with Joan Jeanrenaud
Kronos Quartet: Music of Vladimir Martynov

Nonesuch

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s addictive three-week Mahler Project is over. Now what? There is always cold turkey. But there is also, courtesy of the Kronos Quartet, Mahler methadone.

In the string quartet "Das Abschied," by a 65-year-old spiritual Russian composer too little known in the West, Vladimir Martynov extends the final passages of the last measures of Mahler’s symphonic song cycle “Das Lied von der Erde” to a heavenly length of 40 minutes.

This is Mahler for those who never want one of his most movingly ethereal passages to stop.

Also on the recording is another magnificent example of how Martinov’s mystical obsession with time and history music has led him to step outside of reasonable temporality and human concerns. He is, in his own description, a "posthumous" composer of “post-opus” music.

In this spirit he wrote his "Schubert-Quintet (Unfinished)," a stirring meditation on Schubert’s magnificent Quintet in C, three years ago for Kronos and its former cellist, Joan Jeanrenaud. It is not so much a post-opus as a Postmodern, Minimalist masterpiece. The performance, exquisitely recorded, is radiant.
 

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-- Mark Swed

Photo: The Kronos Quartet with Jean Jeanrenaud in the world premiere of Martynov's "Schubert-Quintet (Unfinished)" in Berkeley in 2009. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

 

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