You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kronos Quartet; Tanya Tagaq

Even after three decades of continuous activity, the Kronos Quartet continues to come up with fresh ideas from out of the blue.

Kronos Quartet (David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt, Jeffrey Ziegler), Tanya Tagaq.

Even after three decades of continuous activity, the Kronos Quartet continues to come up with fresh ideas from out of the blue. The foursome’s latest album, “The Cusp Of Magic” (Nonesuch), renews their collaboration with Terry Riley, but this time with the exotic inclusion of Chinese pipa player Wu Man and a gaggle of toy instruments. For their current “Nunavut” tour, they have joined forces with the electrifying Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq to push the boundaries of the string quartet almost into the danger zone. Where Kronos will venture next, perhaps they don’t even know yet.

Nunavut is the vast, icy Canadian territory of land mass, islands and inlets that extends nearly all the way to the North Pole — and such isolation no doubt contributed to the uniqueness of the guttural, wordless, improvisatory Inuit vocal style. Tagaq seems to have taken this even further; as Kronos first violinist David Harrington suggests, she does sound like Jimi Hendrix’s guitar at times with her divebombing effects, high-pitched bird noises, electronic-like buzzings and such.

There is another ingredient that both Taraq and Hendrix use — sex. Granted, her collaborative piece with Kronos, “Nunavut,” is strictly grounded in the Inuit game of competitive singing, where two vocalists get in each other’s faces and rev up the pace until one or the other drops out. But to this suggestible listener (and surely many others) in Walt Disney Concert Hall Saturday night, when Tagaq strolled from one Kronos member to the next, her breathing getting heavier as each player produced louder and more violent sounds, it was — to put it bluntly — like a musical gangbang.

Derek Charke’s 30-minute “Tundra Songs,” commissioned for Kronos and Tagaq by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn., was considerably less erotic, with tapes of man-made and natural Arctic sounds circulating now and then through minimalist, folk-like, soaring, occasionally melodramatic patterns by the quartet.

The idea of North (in Glenn Gould’s phrase) extended through the rest of the program via the funky scrapings, bongings and bingings of “Work” by Norway’s Xploding Plastix, the droning minimalism and classical pastiche of “The Fly Freer” by Icelandic band Sigur Ros, dignified Swedish folk song “Tusen Tankar,” and a pair of Finnish works, Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen’s “Avara” and Kaija Saariaho’s “Nymphea.” The latter, with its dissonant rustlings and virulent fizzings encased in a computer-generated halo, was the only piece that was familiar to Kronos watchers — another sign that the group remains obsessed with change.

Kronos Quartet; Tanya Tagaq

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 2,265 seats, $85 top

Production: Presented by Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn. Reviewed May 3, 2008.

Cast: Kronos Quartet (David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt, Jeffrey Ziegler), Tanya Tagaq.

More Scene

  • Marianne Rendon, Matt Smith, Ondi Timoner

    Robert Mapplethorpe Biopic Team Talks 'Fast and Furious' Filming

    Thursday night’s New York premiere of the Matt Smith-led biopic “Mapplethorpe” took place at Cinépolis Chelsea, just steps from the Chelsea Hotel where the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once lived — but director Ondi Timoner had no sense of that legacy when she first encountered him in a very different context. “When I was ten [...]

  • Producer Mel Jones poses at the

    'Dear White People' Producer Talks Hollywood's 'Black Tax'

    “Dear White People” and “Leimert Park” executive producer Mel Jones is extremely familiar with growing up and watching “white men in all types of roles and never [seeing] ourselves as a part of those narratives.” Now, there may be some more opportunities for writers of color to tell their own stories, but, she notes, there [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    Rebel Wilson on Twitter Gaffe: 'It Was Purely to Lift My Fellow Plus-Size Women Up'

    “I obviously misspoke in that situation,” Rebel Wilson told Variety at the premiere of her latest film “Isn’t It Romantic” Monday, acknowledging the gaffe in which she claimed to be the first-ever plus-sized woman to star in a romantic comedy during an October appearance on “Ellen.” Following the comment, Wilson was met with criticism from Twitter [...]


    How Lena Waithe Convinced Halle Berry to Team Up for 'Boomerang' TV Series

    Halle Berry wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of a “Boomerang” reboot. The 1992 romantic comedy, which starred Berry, Eddie Murphy, and Robin Givens, told the tale of cocky ad executive and insatiable ladies’ man Marcus (Murphy) who meets his match in his new boss Jacqueline (Givens) — an exec who treats him the same [...]

  • Rebel Wilson and Miley Cyrus'Isn't it

    Why Liam Hemsworth Wasn't at His 'Isn't It Romantic' Premiere, but Wife Miley Cyrus Was

    Liam Hemsworth had every intention of bringing his wife, Miley Cyrus, to Monday’s premiere of his new romantic comedy “Isn’t It Romantic.” However, the Aussie actor was forced to skip the evening because of some “health things.” That didn’t stop Cyrus from attended the red carpet shindig at the Theater at the Ace Hotel in downtown [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content