Kronos Quartet to deliver surprise in Athens

In Gustav Holst?s suite ?The Planets,? the movement dedicated to the solar system?s ringed planet is titled ?Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age.? Saturn, known as Kronos or Cronus in Greek, represents time, even though he was identified in mythology as the beastly god who swallowed his children as they were born.

None of this applies to the celebrated Kronos Quartet. Ever since its establishment in the early 1970s, the ensemble has been living up to its reputation of being a one-of-a-kind music phenomenon through a sensationally wide-ranging, constantly developing repertory.

The ensemble is expected to appear at the capital?s Onassis Cultural Center on Thursday, May 5, in a program including pieces by popular minimalists Steve Reich and Terry Riley, as well as works by New York composers like Missy Mazzoli, Bryce Dessner, J.G. Thirlwell and Michael Gordon. According to the concert?s organizers, the quartet?s musicians — violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, viola soloist Hank Dutt and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler — are preparing a special surprise for the Greek audience.

When Harrington founded the ensemble in Seattle back in 1973, it would have been impossible to foresee what lay ahead: a classical string quartet that would creatively undermine its ?classical? identity by carrying its musical curiosity into completely different fields ranging from electronica and jazz to film soundtracks.

Evidently the group?s classical background — as evidenced on albums such as Alban Berg?s ?Lyric Suite,? which was recorded in 2003, and 1993?s imposing ?At the Grave of Richard Wagner? — provided fertile ground for the ensemble to broaden its scope. Other highlights from the quartet?s career include its standout interpretations of Philip Glass film soundtracks, including ?Mishima? (1985) and ?Songs from the Liquid Days? (1986).

The Kronos Quartet also earned kudos for its interpretation of Clint Mansell?s dark original score for Darren Aronofsky?s ?Requiem for a Dream.? Equally memorable are the ensemble?s renditions of jazz compositions by Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans as well as its collaborations with artists such as David Bowie, Bjork and Tom Waits.

Onassis Cultural Center, 107-109 Syngrou, tel 2130.178.000. At 8.30 p.m.

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