“With string quartets, the possibilities are endless, rhythmically, melodically, harmonically and sound-wise. I enjoy composing music based on the polyrhythmic, minimalist groove concept. It’s a very young style with lots of uncharted territory to explore. It’s fairly accessible, pleasing to the ear and aesthetically satisfying, because it organically develops complexity out of simple, but rewarding ideas.”Stephan Thelen
In April 2014, music journalist Anil Prasad was sitting in composer Stephan Thelen’s Zürich flat listening to a demo of his first string quartet titled “World Dialogue.” As a longtime admirer of his work with Sonar, Prasad was fascinated by how Thelen combined his minimalist groove compositional approach with the mercurial nuances only a string quartet is capable of exploring.
Thelen told Prasad a dream of his was to have Kronos Quartet record one of his compositions. Between 2013-2014, Prasad had spent many hours with David Harrington, Kronos Quartet’s founder and violinist – Prasad felt Thelen’s approach was perfectly suited for the quartet, who had previously recorded minimalist works by Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley.
Despite Kronos Quartet being among the busiest performing ensembles in the world, Prasad asked Kronos to consider Thelen’s work for its repertoire. Thelen sent Harrington the demo recording and score, which lead to a meeting in San Francisco in 2016.
On that occasion, Harrington commissioned Thelen to write a new piece for the ambitious series 50 for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire. The idea was to create a diverse library of 50 works designed to reflect Kronos’ elastic capabilities and create a new body of work for young musicians to freely access and perform. The result was “Circular Lines.”
The Al Pari Quartet, a Polish, all-women ensemble, heard Kronos Quartet’s rendition of “Circular Lines” and began performing it at their own concerts. News of their interest in Stephan’s work reached him and he went on to collaborate with them as well on the other three pieces in this album.
Al Pari Quartet went on to record “World Dialogue” for this album—the original piece Thelen had Kronos in mind for.
Thelen also wrote a new piece for Al Pari Quartet named “Silesia”—the region of Central Europe, located mainly in Poland, which the group calls home.
The approach Thelen used on “Silesia” carries over into “Chaconne,” also written by Thelen and recorded by Al Pari Quartet.
Release Date: October 30th, 2020
1 Circular Lines (10 :09)
Performed by and written for the Kronos Quartet
2 Chaconne (4 :32)
Performed by the Al Pari Quartet
3 World Dialogue (15:20)
Performed by the Al Pari Quartet
4 Silesia (15:02)
Performed by and written for the Al Pari Quartet
Kronos Quartet :
David Harrington : Violin 1
John Sherba : Violin 2
Hank Dutt: Viola
Sunny Yang: Cello
Al Pari Quartet :
Marta Lucjan : Violin 1
Alicja Miruk-Mirska : Violin 2
Magdalena Maier : Viola
Elżbieta Rychwalska : Cello
All compositions by Stephan Thelen
“World Dialogue” (2006), “Chaconne” (2018) and “Silesia” (2019) recorded February 20-21 2020, Kirche Zum Heiligen Kreuz, Berlin, Germany.
Recording Engineer: Dirk Fischer.
Mixed by Dirk Fischer, June 2020.
“Circular Lines” commissioned for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire
© 2016 Inner Sunset Publishing
℗ 2017 Kronos Performing Arts Association
Recorded July 2017 at 25th Street Recording, Oakland, CA
Engineered by Alex Spencer
Assistant engineer: Peter Labberton
Production Assistant: Reshena Liao
Mixed by Stephan Thelen, June 2020.
Mastered by Alexander Vatagin in Vienna, Austria, June 2020.