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Kronos Quartet: A Thousand Thoughts (Nonesuch)

With cellist number four, Sunny Yang, American experimentalists Kronos are marking 40 years together this year, as well as the fiftieth anniversary of their label, Nonesuch, and will be at London's Barbican to premiere new music by Terry Riley, Philip Glass and Jarvis Cocker next month.

This album is a distillation of a five-album "Explorer Series" box set that itself tries to capture the global reach of their repertoire by gathering five albums originally issued between 1992 (Pieces Of Africa) and 2009 (Floodplain), so it has all the deficiencies of any such thankless task (excerpts from longer works, juxtapositions that pose unanswered questions) even if it is as good an introduction to the group's remarkable reach as any.

Oddly missing from the single disc is anything by South African composer Kevin Volans, 75 this year, whose White Man Sleeps, which they first recorded in 1987 and which also features on Pieces Of Africa, arguably led them down this path in the first place.

His attempt to "reconcile European and African aesthetics" and "reflect in the music an image of a multicultural society" (his phrases) make him a still under-rated contemporary voice. The inclusion of the 1991 single Hunting: Gathering would surely have been appropriate.

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