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Album review: Kronos Quartet/Bryce Dessner, Aheym (Anti-)


The National guitarist Bryce Dessner was first commissioned by The Kronos Quartet to write something for a 2009 Brooklyn festival. "Aheym" – Yiddish for "Homeward" – was the result, a piece celebrating his immigrant grandparents' settling in the borough decades earlier. Opening with urgent triplets, it settles into an elegant braiding of interlaced lines that push the music forward in waves. The commission led to the three other pieces here. "Tenebre" is also informed by Dessner's roots in the New York contemporary tradition, its interlinking phrases giving way to string and vocal drones. The breezy "Tour Eiffel" adds piano to the string and vocal textures, while "Little Blue Something" emulates the resonant timbre of viola da gamba players.

Download: Aheym; Tenebre; Little Blue Something; Tour Eiffel