Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Kronos Quartet: Floodplain [Nonesuch, 2009]
Usually this staunchly eclectic string quartet forges alliances with non-Western musicians I'd as soon stand alone or works with Western composers who aren't to my taste. This collection of traditional music, classical music, pop songs, and special commissions from a broadly conceived Middle East is different. Dumb me found out from the notes that it was the two pop songs that always rang my chimes--one from Egypt circa 1940, the other from '70s Iraq. In the wrong mood, some of the others can seem too solemn, histrionic, drawn-out--slow. But there's nothing here that doesn't suit the right mood. There are cathedrals in Sicily that overlay Christian imagery on Islamic design in buildings that can accommodate all comers. This album brought them back. A-