Iva Bittová, the unparalleled Czech violinist/singer/composer, has teamed up with the dynamic Bang on a Can All-Stars for an unforgettable recording.
Her first major US release since her eponymous debut on Nonesuch in 1998, Elida (the name is a brand of soap from the composer’s childhood) finds Bittová using the All-Stars as her orchestra. Sweeping piano lines meet full string ensemble settings, while clarinet improvisations meet electric guitar noise. The music is sophisticated, direct, yet also edgy and nostalgic. Elida mixes Eastern European classical music and folk traditions with angular string writing and heart-breaking Czech vocal melodies.
“Her sound is invigorating, urgent, and also soothing; it is a fusion of Old World and new-music sensibilities.”
– Alicia Zuckerman, New York Magazine
Iva Bittová on Elida:
I once received a book of poetry from a fan in Prague after a concert. The book was written by the Czech poet Vera Chase, whose work tends toward feminism in my opinion. A few years later, I was searching for inspiration for my new music, and I found her poem “Elida.” I was inspired by the provocative and somewhat erotic nature of the poem. Also, I feel there is some humor in the lyrics, which I always like.
No one has touched me like you so far
I haven’t met that right one yet
With a look and scent that is pure through and through
No one equals your smoothness
Made out of bones and perfume
The purest one
Oh, so gently you, mine
May touch me
I thought about this person in the poem. Then, surprise! I remembered that my grandmother’s favorite soap was called “Elida.” Perhaps this poem is not written for a person after all. I have tried without success to contact Vera Chase to ask her if I am right. I think I am. It’s fun to wonder.
The piece “Ladna Celadna” is a waltz inspired by trees. “Presto” is a talk show of instruments.