Kronos Quartet and Asha Bhosle

You've Stolen My Heart

It's ironic that the big zinger for Kronos Quartet's latest CD -- teaming up with famed "Queen of Bollywood" vocalist Asha Bhosle -- is actually its weakest link. While longtime fans naturally expect the S.F.-based classical-music innovators to push the genre's parameters, this 100 percent classical-free stab at so-called hipster chic (one can imagine violinist and producer David Harrington prodding his bandmates: "C'mon, guys! It's fun!") takes some getting used to. The group's collaboration with Bhosle on songs by her late husband, soundtrack composer R.D. Burman, features a bit too much cheese (a Bollywood trademark, I know) that makes the production feel geeky in its overzealous attempt at multicultural pop cool. And the singer's mellifluous presence tends to soften Kronos' edgy appeal. Granted, Harrington's arrangements are far from boring -- the rhythmic crosscurrents on "My Lover Came Silently" and "Love, Come to Me Now" in fact lean toward compelling -- but this has more to do with the quartet's give-and-take with virtuosic percussionist Zakir Hussain than its partnership with Bhosle. Ultimately, there's just too much singing on this disc, and too little Kronos.

 
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