Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg*

Amernet String Quartet

Misha Vitenson, violin
Franz Felkl, violin
Michael Klotz, viola
Jason Calloway, cello


Sunday, August 20, 2017, 4 pm

The Fifth of Seven Programs this Season Honoring the Composers Aaron Jay Kernis,
Johannes Brahms, and Antonín Dvořák


Italian Serenade (1887)    Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)

Quartet #1     Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942)
Presto con fuoco
Allegretto con moto e con malinconia grotesca
Allegro giocoso alla Slovacca
Andante molto sostenuto


Quartet in G-major, Op. 106     Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Allegro moderato
Adagio ma non troppo
Molto Vivace
Finale: Andante sostenuto — Allegro con fuoco


Saturday, August 26, 6 pm    |    Annual Chamber Orchestra Concert
Maria Jette, Soprano; Emmanuel Feldman, cello; Members of Aurea Ensemble; and the Maverick Chamber Players,
Alexander Platt, conductor
Remembrances: Remembering the great American composers Dominick Argento and Ned Rorem, as they approach
their 90th and 95th birthdays. Music of Ravel, Mussorgsky, Ned Rorem, and Dominick Argento

Sunday, August 27, 4 pm    |    Trio Solisti
New Foundations X: Music of Schubert, Dvořák, and Jennifer Higdon

The Yamaha DC7XE grand piano in the Maverick Concert Hall is
a generous loan from Yamaha Artists Services.



Praised for their “intelligence” and “immensely satisfying” playing by The New York Times, the Amernet String Quartet has garnered recognition as one of today’s exceptional string quartets. Ensemble-in-Residence at Florida International University since 2004, the group was formed in 1991, while its founding members were students at The Juilliard School. Amernet rose to international attention after their first season, winning the Gold Medal at the Tokyo International Music Competition in 1992. In 1995, the group was the First Prize winner at the Banff International String Quartet Competition.

Their busy performance schedule has taken the group across the US, as well as throughout Europe, Japan, Korea, Canada, and Mexico. They have collaborated with numerous artists and ensembles including the Tokyo, St. Lawrence, and Ying string quartets as well as Shmuel Ashkenasi, Ida Kavafian, Ruth Laredo, and James Tocco.

The Amernet has held residencies at Northern Kentucky University, the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music, and the Caramoor Center for the Arts. They have appeared at Ravinia, Lincoln Center, and the Mostly Mozart Festival, and at major festivals around the world, including the San Miguel de Allende and Morelia music festivals in Mexico and the Bowdoin festival in Maine. The Amernets founded the Norse Festival, a summer chamber music workshop for young musicians at Northern Kentucky University, and host an annual summer chamber music camp in Miami called Animato.

The Amernet has commissioned works from many of today’s leading composers, including Anthony Brandt, John Corigliano, and Toshi Ichiyanagi. The Amernet also actively advocates for neglected works of the past and aims to enliven the concert experience through its innovative programming.


It is a common practice for music festivals such as the Maverick to schedule music from three different eras—often Classical, Romantic, and Modern or Contemporary—in each program. This is not the way music would have been heard in concerts in the nineteenth century. Before the phonograph, music was heard by the public either in a concert hall, at a salon, or in the home, played from sheet music purchased for that purpose. Most of the art music people heard was written by living composers. We are in many ways fortunate that we have classics that remain in the repertoire through time. But we have also lost the sense of what it must have been like when the composers of the day were the stars. So it is a rare treat to have this program at the Maverick, in which all three of the pieces were written in a single four-year period, between 1885 and 1889. This is how the concert-going public of the late nineteenth century might have experienced a performance.

Hugo Wolf is best known as a masterful and prolific composer of art songs. He stood with the avant-garde Wagnerites, calling the more classically oriented Brahms a reactionary. In a letter to a friend, Wolf wrote that the opera he envisioned writing would be filled with the strumming of guitars, sighs of love, moonlit nights, and banquets with champagne. When he wrote the Italian Serenade, Wolf was also at work setting the verse of the Prussian poet Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff. One of the major exponents of German Romanticism, Eichendorff had also wrtten a novella about a young musician who charms some and antagonizes others—just as Wolf himself had. The novella contains a performance of an “Italian Serenade.”

Although Wolf sketched other movements, the Molto vivo is the only one he completed. It starts with a carefree theme (perhaps representing the charming hero), accompanied by fast and light chords that imitate strummed guitars. This theme recurs, interspersed with different musical episodes, making this movement a loosely organized rondo. One of the episodes is a cello solo in recitative style, like the anguished declamation of a jilted lover. But the heaviness is belied by the delicate little figures in the other voices that punctuate the cello’s phrases. Wolf is, perhaps, parodying his own dramatic intensity. At the end, the anguished theme returns, followed immediately by the cheery theme, and we hear that they are in fact merely different treatments of the same musical thought.

Due to a change in programming, notes on the second and third quartets are not available.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at miriam@hvc.rr.com.

Program Notes © 2017 by Miriam Villchur Berg