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Image Entertainment presents
Kronos Quartet: In Accord (1998)

"I find that all music is connected, whether it's contemporary music or early. Imean, as a performer you work on the same issues; intonation, technically beingtogether and musical character, feeling and phrasing."
- Hank Dutt

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: September 12, 2000

Stars: David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt, Joan Jeanrenaud
Director: Manfred Waffender

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:00m:00s
Release Date: September 05, 2000
UPC: 014381580822
Genre: classical

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+A+A+ D

DVD Review

Kronos Quartet (David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt, Joan Jeanrenaud) is a musical group that has largely gone unnoticed in the mainstream media. Though their career spans 27 years, over 12 albums, and thousands of performances, they seem content to quietly progress and innovate without lavish "rock star" attention payed to them. Kronos is, at their most basic, a simple string quartet of three violinists and one cellist, but their approach to music is anything but basic, collaborating with some of the finest experimental musicians of the age and creating bold new arrangements of classical pieces. Some of their most noteworthy performances of late include work with composer Elliot Goldenthal on the soundtrack for the film Heat and collaboration with Philip Glass for the new musical score to the 1931 Dracula (included as an alternate audio track on the recent DVD version of that film).

Kronos devotes themselves to lively, beautifully rendered work that breaks the barriers between the stiff attitudes that are typically part of classical music appreciation and the average music fan. Just as they can perform a marvelous version of a Beethoven standard, they can just as easily belt out a creative rendition of Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze. In Accord is a live performance by Kronos Quartet that focuses on some of their most noteworthy pieces from various points in their career. There is no audience and the performance is strictly for the cameras.

The songs featured are:
Astor Piazzolla: Four, for Tango (1987).
Terry Riley: Cadenza on the Night Plain (1984).
Hamza El Din: Escalay (1989).
John Zorn: Cat O' Nine Tails (1988).
John Adams: John's Book of Alleged Dances - Standchen: The Little Serenade (1994).
Hildegard Von Bingen: O Virtus Sapientie (12th Century).
Harry Partch: Two Studies on Ancient Greek Scales (1946).
Perotin: Viderunt Omnes (12th-13th Century)
Alfred Schnittke: Collected Songs Where Every Verse Is Filled With Grief (1984/87).
Gabrela Ortiz: Altar de Muertos (1997).
Jimi Hendrix: Purple Haze (1967).

Featuring work from such wonderful, experimental composers like John Zorn, Alfred Schnittke, and Terry Riley, the performance is broad in its scope; covering both somber melodies and lively, active tunes.

Many songs feature short introductions by Kronos Quartet members discussing the evolution of the piece or why they like performing it. Visually, the presentation is fairly simple, but well balanced. While the majority of the footage is of the Quartet performing, the camera angles, close-ups, and creative lighting add a distinctly artistic, well thought out look to the whole affair. Most pieces also contain additional, collage footage of various subject matter (usually relating to the piece), which give a visual dynamic to the songs. Some later pieces feature impressive set dressings and for one song, Altar de Muertos, the members don traditional, Mexican "Day Of the Dead" costumes and spread candles about the stage. Presumably, the entire recording was not done all at once but rather song by song (as evidenced by the stage dressing and clothing changes of the musicians), but this is no way detracts from the feature.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1:78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality on this disc is simply eye-popping. Since this program was produced for European television, I'm assuming it was filmed in High Definition (especially because of the 1:78:1 aspect ratio). Whether or not it was, the visuals are quite amazing. Colors are extremely rich and balanced and the dark cinematography is well represented by the accurate black level. The general clarity is fantastic, with minor details being completely sharp and visible. Even at full zoom, absolutely no digital artifacts or compression problems are evident, it is also fully free of any grain or source print problems. For all intents and purposes, this is a pristine disc.

Image Transfer Grade: A+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Accompanying the outstanding video quality is equally outstanding Dolby 5.1 audio track. The audio is extremely crisp and clean, sounding as if you are actually in the concert hall with Kronos. There is obviously no specific directionality but the sound field created by the 5.1 track (along with surround usage) is very auditorium-like and immersive. Minor inflection and expressions in the music are easily audible.

The alternate Dolby 2.0 Stereo track is almost equally as good as the 5.1, but lacks the same dimension and has no surround information. The best way to describe the difference is that the 2.0 is like a very good CD recording, whereas the 5.1 mix actually puts you into the music.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: While there are no extras to speak of, this doesn't really hurt the disc since it's rather self-contained as a concert. The short introduction segments by the band members provides enough supplemental material to keep the presentation fresh. If there's anything Image could have added to the disc, it would have been a discography for Kronos Quartet.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Having recently missed a local live performance by Kronos Quartet, I was looking forward to this disc. I can happily report it's everything I expected it to be and I'm sure that fans of the group will also find it enjoyable. For those with little or no familiarity with them, giving them a listen may just surprise you with how good classical music can be in the right hands. Highly recommended. (for more information on the group, check out http://www.kronosquartet.org, including info on the 1999 departure of cellist Joan Jeanrenaud.)


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