Kronos Quartet, Kimmo Pohjonen & Samuli Kosminen: Uniko (Ondine, 2/1/11)
Morrow: In 2004, the unparalleled Kronos Quartet premiered a new commission of material written by Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen and sampler / electronic percussionist Samuli Kosminen. Though it only was performed on a handful of occasions, it proved so resonant that the six performers finally recorded the seven-movement suite, which was released last month by independent classical label Ondine.
Kronos has always attained high marks for its diversity of projects. Uniko, first and foremost, remains a contemporary chamber piece, but it’s most set apart by the electrified and effected sounds of Pohjonen’s accordion and the soft laptop beats of Kosminen.
Pohjonen also adds wordless vocals that at times resemble throat singing. It’s another interesting element, but the movements’ structures are the real key to Uniko‘s success — whether building into a stirring Balkan folk melody in “I. Utu” or stacking pizzicato and staccato passages over buzzing percussive samples in “III. Sarma.”