The Kronos foursome are a cottage industry unto themselves, having commissioned and premiered hundreds of new pieces and put out almost two dozen CDs in two decades. But are they still a fresh act? Well, the trademark mod-squad affectations that so wowed the downtown and Park West crowds in the 80s have become rather predictable. And their playing, after all these years, has not quite matured to the level of top-notch classical quartets. On the other hand, they're still among the most successful of crossover acts. Their zeal for the new hasn't flogged a bit; besides, they're almost alone in compiling such a United Colors of Benetton repertoire. Four nationalities are showcased in the Kronos's latest stop in the Chicago area: Russian (Sofia Gubaidulina), Azerbaijani (Franghiz Ali-Zadeh), Canadian (John Oswald), and, of course, American (Scott Johnson, Lois V. Vierk, and John Zorn). Gubaidulina's Quartet no. 4 and Ali-Zadeh's Mugam Sayagi are the most recent works by these gifted expatriates of the former Soviet avant-garde. Westcoaster Vierk's River Beneath the River shows strong Japanese influences. And Johnson's "Cold War Suite" (from the longer How It Happens) is a multimedia, politics-infused tribute to I.F. Stone. Saturday, 8 PM, Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Ct., Schaumburg; 708-894-3600.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marion Ettlinger.