World Dialogue [featuring Kronos Quartet]
(2020 - RareNoiseRecords - UK)
Amazing in depth, summation, foresight, and juxtaposition of the skills involving classical string quartet and pivoting rhythmic invention from the keen and ever seeking mind of brilliant guitarist/composer/thinker/ Stephan Thelan. The fact that he wrote this for world famous elite Kronos Quartet is a high achievement in itself, but one listen and all the world's problems disappear, at least for the hour. In fact, the word arresting comes to mind within the first moments of this masterwork.
Sparing the long arduous details Mr Thelen went to for this award deserving realization, let us just give credit to the fact that the native born American, removed to Switzerland in the 1990's, in which he studied mathematics at the University of Zürich (PHD in 1990) has made another exemplary recording . It is important to know he was a student of Robert Fripp in that master's Guitar Craft Seminars. He was interested in chamber music from 2004, but flirted with it most of his musical life. This is a pinnacle at least in this field. He has monumental solos (check out another TOP CHOICE pick I made with his solo 'Fractal Guitar' - 2018) with expansive guitar treatments, inventive effects (both electronic and hand created), and compositional superiority. So there is no shortage of things before and after this for Stephan Thelen. You can count on that.
Ever hear something too good to be true? This is a recording that brings that to the table, delivers, and follows it up with a dare to do a second, third, and many more auditions. It holds up without a wrinkle, even a spare moment of weakness, or any flaw whatsoever. No crisis of dissolving pieces, ebb and flow of the epic and scarce, just all 100% head on brilliance, brave complex lilt, pattern, and movement as if Stravinsky has entered Thelen's soul and urged on by his own personal guru. It needs mentioned that both Kronos Quartet and Al Pari Quartet perform these works, as each were selected according to situation and necessity. The music is glassy with the motion, smart with interweaving intricacy, and always upfront with the witness (the listener) as the array of character is not limited in a small string section, verses a large orchestra. In fact, the metrical highlights stand out even more so. Glorious is 'World Dialogue' and it easily makes my TOP CHOICES of 2020 list. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 2 - 9 - 2021