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Who is Kronos?
The Kronos Quartet plays some of the sunniest music of the past 50 years, like Dumisani Maraire's "Mother Nozipo." They also play some of the most harrowing — like George Crumb's "Black Angels."

First violinist David Harrington started Kronos in 1973, after hearing "Black Angels" on the radio. Since then, Kronos has explored musical territory from George Crumb to Jimi Hendrix. The quartet has commissioned new music from the likes of Astor Piazzolla, Phillip Glass, and Henryk Górecki.

Three members of the group — Harrington, second violinist John Sherba, and violist Hank Dutt — have been playing together since 1978. Cellist Jennifer Culp replaced Joan Jeanrenaud in 1999.

In August 2001, Kronos was in the studio. They recorded tracks for a new CD, Nuevo, featuring music from Mexico. In September, producer Gustavo Santaolalla got to work mixing the album. There's music from an indigenous ritual from Chiapas. There's a guy playing a tune on a leaf. And there’s a lounge music romp by Esquivel . . . "Mini Skirt."

Who is Esquivel?
When Juan Garcia Esquivel made records back in the late '50s and '60s, stereo hi-fi sets were a new thing. He loved the way stereo let him create the illusion of space. And he loved treating instruments like bumper cars. Esquivel's arrangements are a crazy mix of whistlers, singers, slide guitars, harpsichords, jaw harps, and his own immaculate piano — launched into orbit by stereo effects. Footsteps travel from speaker to speaker. So do pianos and percussion.

These days, a new generation of fans have dubbed Esquivel the "king of space-age bachelor pad music." Kronos first violinist David Harrington says that over the last 50 years there have been few people who can match Esquivel's creativity in the recording studio.

Esquivel died January 3, 2002, after suffering a stroke at his home in Jiutepec, Mexico. He was 83. He is survived by his sixth wife, Carina Osorio vda. de Garcia. They got married in May, 2001, when she was 25.

Who is Golijov?
Osvaldo Golijov (pronounced "GOH-lee-ohv") grew up in Argentina and has lived in the United States since 1986. His composition teachers include George Crumb. In March 2001, The New Yorker published an article about Golijov's new setting of the Passion, "La Pasión Según San Marcos." The magazine called him "a huge talent, with limitless possibilities."

Golijov has worked closely with Kronos since 1992. He says first violinist David Harrington often calls him from some distant time zone. The next moment, the phone starts to crackle with an exotic sound Harrington has discovered.

Some of Golijov's collaborations with Kronos have been original compositions — like The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind, which Kronos recorded with klezmer clarinettist David Krakauer. But Golijov has also created many arrangements for Kronos that call for the quartet to coax a vocabulary of exotic sounds from their instruments. His take on "Mini Skirt" has the quartet using heavy practice mutes, playing with the wood of the bow, and stopping the strings so they whistle.

Who is Santaolalla?
Producer Gustavo Santaolalla grew up in Argentina, where he started the rock band Arco Iris in 1967. Since then, his career has danced between popular music and Latin folk music. In the '70s, he produced a CD project that took him the length of Argentina — from the north down to Tierra del Fuego — recording the country's different folk styles. He came to Los Angeles in 1978, and now runs Surco Records in L.A. with his business partner and longtime collaborator, Anibal Kerpel.

Santaolalla has produced records by the likes of Molotov, Café Tacuba and Juanes, and is considered a leader of the the "Rock en Español" movement. He's also put out records of his own, like Ronroco — a 1998 album featuring the sound of an Argentine folk instrument called the charango. Music from that record was used in the soundtrack to The Insider, and Santaolalla has since been much in demand for film music. He created the soundtrack for the Mexican film Amores Perros, released last year.

Santaolalla first worked with Kronos on a Grammy-winning album he produced for Café Tacuba, "Reves/Yo Soy." Kronos played a tune called "M.C." in an arrangement by Osvaldo Golijov.

Copyright 2002 NPR