After the break, with the strings boosted by the tabla player Debopriyo Sarkar, it was Asha Bhosle's turn to wander on stage. The reaction, as well as affection, was curiosity. She has one of the world's best-known voices but spent most of her career being mimed to by more famous faces. Now, we realise that she, too, has the presence of a star.
There was easy repartee with the quartet and flirtation with its newest member, cellist Jeffrey Ziegler, whose looks could pass him off as a Bollywood fledgling. The concert followed a successful CD release, in which Bhosle revisits the Burman songs that made her a household name, with new arrangements by the quartet. And lower in pitch: the voice and technique are still there, but now extend downwards into a tonal richness that compensates for the old brilliance, and, on this occasion, sometimes sounded a little tired.
But the arrangements made the day. Kronos have grown into the style, easy in the rhythms and slides. They can match Bhosle's free but precise nuances, and were confident in staying with her. And Sarkar managed to follow the beat instead of leading it.
This half was rapturously received. They could have got away with it on its own, but that's not Kronos's style. Four opening items dipped into a treasure-trove of Californian encounters with the wider world, from the relatively familiar Riley (part of Salome Dances for Peace), to new arrangements, the pick a raga, translated from a recording by the sarangi player Ram Narayan into a cadenza for viola. Hank Dutt played with fervour; the others took on the drone support.
Stephen Prutsman's version of a musical battle piece by the Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya gripped through to its unresolved end. Dream of Angels, which Prutsman had arranged from the Icelandic rock group Sigur Ros, aspired to solemnity and achieved pretension.Reuse content