Amernet String Quartet
Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.
Scott Concert Hall at the Porter Center
HAYDN String Quartet in G minor, Op. 74, No. 3, "Rider"
SCHULHOFF String Quartet No. 1
DVOŘÁK String Quartet in G major, Op. 106
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Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
String Quartet in G minor, Op. 74, No. 3, "Rider"
Haydn's Six String Quartets Op. 71 and 74 were products of his second trip to London. Having experienced an unimaginable success during his first visit with both symphonies and string quartets (first six “London” Symphonies” and his Op. 64 String Quartets), Haydn decided to write six more string quartets for his return visit. While we always think of string quartets as an intimate genre—“a conversation among friends,” the most intellectual genre for the connoisseur—his Op. 71/74 quartets are actually quite the opposite. With his visits to London, the string quartets had moved out of the chamber and into the concert hall. Up to 800 Londoners would hear them performed.
The last of these six is the most “public” and the most daring. Haydn pushes the classical envelope with dramatic gestures, extreme contrasts, and remote key relationships. It is mature, public Haydn at his very best—not the “quirky” Haydn from his more private works written for the Esterhazy family. This quartet demands skill, artistry, and imaginative ensemble playing from professional musicians in a public setting. At the same time, Haydn was nevertheless able to keep the more intellectual style intact, setting his late string quartets apart from his “London” Symphonies. In fact, Count Apponyi, the dedicatee, paid Haydn 100 ducats for the privilege of having the quartets to himself for a year, prior to their general availability through publication.
ERWIN SCHULHOFF (1860-1942)
String Quartet No. 1
When Dvořák heard the seven-year-old Schulhoff playing the piano, he gave him two pieces of chocolate and told him to become a musician. With chocolate and Dvořák as his motivation, Schulhoff began his wide-eyed approach to composition. Always open to new ideas, Schulhoff found the opposite trends of twelve-tone music, jazz, and Dadaism equally irresistible, so he added them to his own stylistic home shaped by Bartók’s folklorism.
The work begins with a brief but absolutely captivating energetic first movement where all the above-mentioned styles (except for Schoenberg) find a fresh expression. The “grotesque melancholy” second movement can’t ever quite find a chair to sit in, which makes it so engaging by keeping the listener on his toes. The third movement brings us back to the energetic dance-style of the first movement with explosions of sonic effects. After giving us the chocolate first, Schulhoff turns surprisingly serious in the last movement where Schoenberg finally makes his appearance, albeit in a more lyrical, dare I say, romantic fashion.
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
String Quartet No. 13 in G major, Op. 106
The biographical readings of Dvořák’s penultimate string quartet couldn’t differ more widely. Some hear the composer’s anguish over the deaths of both his sister-in-law and his first love, while others hear the composer’s deep contentment of being home after two taxing years in America. Welcome to the world of absolute music! Dvořák gave us absolutely no extra-musical hints, as his focus was on pure musical expression. It is one of his most tightly composed works, where every phrase and motive is part of the larger whole. Dvořák clearly was at the height of his compositional powers, writing music that is intellectually stimulating as well as highly expressive. As to the meaning of the piece—I encourage you to get lost in the sublime and find your own reading of this captivating work.
- Siegwart Reichwald
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Amernet String Quartet
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 and are Ensemble-in-Residence at Florida International University in Miami. Their sound has been called “complex” but with an “old world flavor.” Strad Magazine described the Amernet as “…a group of exceptional technical ability.”
The Amernet’s performance schedule has taken the quartet across the Americas and to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. They have collaborated with many of today’s most prominent artists and ensembles including the Tokyo and Ying quartets as well as Shmuel Ashkenasi, Robert deMaine, Roberto Diaz, Gary Hoffman, Ida Kavafian, Anthony McGill, Sherrill Milnes, Michael Tree. Internationally, the quartet has appeared at major festivals around the world, including Cervantino, San Miguel de Allende, Aviv (Israel), and Colima (Mexico), while in Germany a critic commented that their playing was “fascinating, with flawless intonation, extraordinary beauty of sound, virtuosic brilliance and homogeneity of ensemble.” (Nürnberger Nachrichten). The Amernet’s U.S. engagements have included the Kennedy Center, the Tilles Center, Caramoor, Sunday Afternoons of Music in Miami, Ensemble Music Society, the Great Lakes Festival, Newport, Friends of Chamber Music in Arizona and Friends of Chamber Music in Syracuse, LPR in New York City, Chamber Music Society of Louisville, Music on the Edge in Pittsburgh, the University of Maine – Collins Center, and Market Square Concerts. The Amernet has also appeared as quartet soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony and Alan Gilbert. Earlier in their career, the Amernet won the gold medal at the Tokyo International Music Competition before being named first prize winners of the prestigious Banff International String Quartet Competition.
Prior to their current position at Florida International University, the Amernet held posts as Corbett String Quartet-in-Residence at Northern Kentucky University and at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Additionally, the ensemble served as the Ernst Stiefel Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for the Arts.
The Amernet has always been committed to the music of our time and has commissioned works from many of today’s leading composers. Their current season includes tours throughout Europe and Latin America as well as the premieres of several new works for quartet and return engagements throughout the US and Israel.