Placeless is the first collaboration between Kronos and Iranian singers Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat. Recorded in Oslo’s Kulturkirken Jakob in November 2018, the album features 14 songs composed by Mahsa Vahdat to classical poems by Hafez and Rumi and the works of contemporary Iranian poets Forough Farrokhzad, Mohammad Ibrahim Jafari and Vahdat’s husband Atabak Elyasi. Composers Sahba Aminikia, Aftab Darvishi, Jacob Garchik and Elyasi arranged the songs for string quartet.
Despite spanning a period of 800 years, even the oldest poems are still surprisingly relevant, showing how the human heart is always the same, regardless of time, place and culture. The album title Placeless references a well-known poem by Rumi from the 13th century:
I am not from the East, nor from the West
I am not from the land, nor from the sea
I am not from the world, not from beyond
My place is placelessness. My trace is tracelessness.
“This recording is a milestone for us,” says Mahsa Vahdat. “The wonderful musicians in Kronos Quartet have given our music new dimensions. Our lives are constantly changing in relation to time and place. Our home and where we belong - this is all over the globe. By performing poems from Persia’s classical era, we have been coming closer and closer to finding an organic connection between what we express in our art and the way we live.”
Commenting on the new release, Kronos’ artistic director, founder and violinist David Harrington states, “We’re always trying to learn as much as we can, and now, recording with Mahsa and Marjan, we sometimes are able to make sounds we have never before heard from our instruments.”