Ives Quartet Spring Concert Series

Michael Zwiebach on April 10, 2013
Ives Quartet

The Ives Quartet has an interesting way of sandwiching the most novel or interesting piece between two standard masterworks. If you go to hear their spring program, for example, you’ll get Lou Harrison’s wonderful String Quartet Set in between your Mozart (Quartet in B-Flat, No. 22) and your Brahms (Quartet in F Major, Op. 88).

It’s not just that, if you want to hear those pieces you have to deal with the Harrison; it’s that Harrison’s piece is organized around older music (the first movement is a variations on a troubadour tune), and the third is titled Estampie, which was a vigorous medieval-era dance. Brahms was also interested in older polyphony, especially in his later works. But Harrison’s piece has at times a playful insouciance that also characterizes Mozart’s music. So the program’s fulcrum is really the Harrison, which shows you something of the classical pieces’ spirit through a modern lens.

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