Charles Ives – String Quartet No. 1

Charles Ives (1874-1954)
String Quartet No.1 “From the Salvation Army” (c. 1897-1900)

I. Chorale
II. Prelude
III. Offertory
IV. Postlude

Concord String Quartet:
Mark Sokol, violin
Andrew Jennings, violin
John Kochanowski, viola
Norman Fischer, cello

The First String Quartet (c. 1897-1900) was Charlies Ives‘ first composition of extended length, written under the supervision of Horatio Parker at Yale University. Subtitled “A Revival Service,” the piece quotes traditional hymns of the United States and reveals Ives’ early polytonal experimentation. The first movement is a fugue based on the hymn “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains”; Ives felt so strongly about the movement that he later rescored it for the third movement of his Fourth Symphony. The next two movements are each shaped in three-part form: the second is dance-like, the third slower but with a more active, pizzicato middle section. The opening theme of the last movement is closely related to the hymn “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”; this contrasts with recapitulated material from the second movement and is followed by a final combination of the two sections in simultaneous duple and triple meters.

Chiara String Quartet at Le Poisson Rouge

Just before the Chiara String Quartet played Webern’s Five Movements for String Quartet on Wednesday evening at Le Poisson Rouge, the group’s first violinist, Rebecca Fischer, pointed out that the work was 101 years old. There was a sense of wonder in her tone — an unspoken subtext that seemed to ask, “Can you believe that people still hear this antique as harsh modernism?” Ms. Fischer added that for her, the movements are five “tiny landscapes.”

Read the full review in The New York Times here.