Charles Ives (1874-1954, American)

Charles Ives is rambunctious cacophony made music. He is also more than “American”: in his use and dynamiting of all possible and most sacro-sanct American hymns and songs and tunes, he is the epitome of American-ness, as much as Bartók is the epitome of Hungarian-ness (and the snake-monster the epitome of Loch-ness). One of the things I love with Ives is the “no punches held” approach to composition, the “smack it in the face of the establishment” attitude (that the lad was trained at Yale by Horatio Parker!!! Hearing the later compositions of his student – or rather, reading them, because, as is well-known, Ives wasn’t played… – must have been what killed Parker…), and the fact that his works are still as provocative and cacophonous today as they were in his own time. I have a lot of Ives in my collection but have reviewed so far much too little of it.

Scherzo for String Quartet by the Kronos Quartet in White Man Sleeps (with works of Kevin Volans, Jon Hassell, Thomas Oboe Lee, Ornette Coleman, Ben Johnston, Béla Bartók), Elektra Nonesuch 979 163-2 (1987) or 7559-79163-2

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