Released worldwide on January 29th, 2016, Serious Business unpacks the theme of humor in classical music through the lens of three world premieres by inventive young composers, and one entry from the year 1781.
Comprised almost exclusively of tonal cadences, Sky Macklay’s Many Many Cadences from 2014 sends the quartet plummeting from the upper reaches of their instruments, cycling at cutthroat speeds, before warping into a fevered variant of itself.
Equal parts punk rock and classical virtuosity, David Reminick’s 2014 The Ancestral Mousetrap requires the quartet to sing while traversing taut, complex counterpoint. The macabre, absurdist, and often profound poetry of Russell Edson provides the libretto for this one-of-a-kind work.
Chris Fisher-Lochhead’s Hack, written in 2015, takes painstaking transcriptions of bits from famous stand-up comedians (including Sarah Silverman, Dave Chappelle, George Carlin, Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfield, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Pryor, and many more) as the piece’s launch point, and mines the nonverbal elements of humor: cadence, pitch, and timing. The staggering score is by turns rapturous, heady, and hyperkinetic.
The Spektral Quartet has yet to experience a performance of Haydn’s “The Joke” in which the audience doesn’t laugh at the piece’s fake-out conclusion. Brimming with whimsy, radiant string writing, and memorable melodies, “The Joke”, from 1781, stands as the historic counterbalance to the abundance of new commissions on Serious Business.