Charles Ives, the godfather of American classical music, is an amazing phenomenon. It’s inexplicable that he is so little played, since few composers pique our curiosity as much as he does. His works may sometimes sound chaotic, but you always want to know what’s hidin behind them. And that’s even more so if you read Ives’ own notes.
His Second String Quartet, for example, is described as a piece for “four men who converse, discuss, argue (in re 'Politick'), fight, shake hands, shut up – then walk up the mountain side to view the firmament!”. The music somersaults between truth and nonsense, bitter earnestness and gallows humour uncomfortable recognition and complete alienation. Politics was rarely so musical, and Ives rarely so pertinent.
And as if this quartet wasn’t enough, there is icing on the cake in the form of the string quartet by Ruth Crawford-Seeger. Even if only to prove that American music of a hundred years ago not only had a modern face, but a female one too.
"The following contains an attempt to suggest a “20th AMENDMENT”, AN ATTEMPT TO REDUCE to a minimum, or possibly to eliminate, something which all our great political leaders talk about but never eliminate, to wit: THE EFFECT OF TOO MUCH POLITICS IN OUR representative DEMOCRACY." – Charles Ives (Concerning A Twentieth Amendment, 1920)
BiSS – Boho International Strings Soloists – brings together four first-chair players from Boho Strings, in a brand-new string quartet. Although the ensemble treasures the classics, their aim is to polish up the many half- or completely forgotten jewels of the modern repertoire. Ives and Crawford-Seeger are just what they’ve been waiting for.