Italian Serenade in G major

Composer: Hugo Wolf (b. 1860 - d. 1903)
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Composer: Hugo Wolf (b. 1860 - d. 1903)

Performance date: 01/07/2017

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1887

Duration: 00:07:00

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc

Instrumentation Category:String Quartet

Artists: Quatuor Zaïde (Charlotte Juillard [violin], Leslie Boulin Raulet [violin] Sarah Chenaf [viola] Juliette Salmona [cello]) - [quartet]

charming piece began life as a string quartet movement in May 1887.
Wolf had been composing songs based on the poems of Joseph
Eichendorf, one of which (
bears a close resemblance to the main theme of the quartet. He was
also probably influenced by Eichendorf’s short novel
the Life of a Ne’er-d-well,

which has a similar theme. He had originally planned a three-movement
work but his father died shortly after he completed the first
movement and the over-sensitive and indeed often neurotic Wolf seems
to have abandoned the work. Then in 1892 he returned to the score,
this time intending to write an Italian serenade, a four movement
suite for small orchestra. He orchestrated the existing movement and
began sketches for the other movements but never finished them. In
1897 he was working on a Tarantella to be included in the suite but
suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to an asylum and again
it was set aside. He later was allowed his freedom but further signs
of instability led to his return to the asylum followed by his death
there. Just the one delectable movement remains to delight us today.

is no trace of his troubled existence in this happy, optimistic
piece. The ebullient main theme is heard at the start over a
pizzicato accompaniment. It has been suggested Wolf based it on an
old Italian melody and it certainly captures that mood. The form is
roughly a rondo with elegantly contrasted episodes between the
appearances of the principal theme. In all, it is a stylish, witty
piece, full of Italian warmth and gaiety.