A favorite “lollipop” often played by string quartets, Hugo Wolf’s Serenade in G major opens this fine program. Early on, the famous composer of art songs referred to this, one of his few chamber works, as the Italian Serenade. It’s lilting theme is easily appreciated for it’s hopeful, confident manner evoking the Italianate spirit.
Mozart’s famous “Dissonance” quartet has long baffled musicologists for it’s opening measures which feature clashing notes and harmonies; a sound that is decidedly un-Mozart-like. Some historians now think that the quartet was influenced by his initiation into the rites of Freemasonry and that he was symbolizing the process of bringing order out of chaos.
In the midst of sickness and despair, Schubert nonetheless turned out piano music, the famous octet and a host of brilliant lieder. Much of it was typically light hearted, but his intense, complex and integrated quartet Der Tod und das Mädchen was not. This was his deepest reflection on his own mortality and has come to be one of the most highly-regarded works in the entire chamber literature.