The string quartet is a measure of the elevated level that western civilization has attained. Last Monday, at our regular noon-time concert, we had a visit from a string quartet named “Amernet” that is based in Miami, Florida. They are touring Israel and gave a performance at our little obscure Shearim concert hall for a reason. The lead violinist, Misha Vitenson, was a new immigrant to Israel from the Soviet Union and as a child played one of his first public appearances at Shearim 25 years ago, just after it was founded by Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum.
He wanted to come back and express his gratitude. He later went on to study at the Juilliard Music School in New York City, one of the best in the world, where he obtained a Masters degree in music and he and the other members of the quartet met and decided to form their ensemble. They have since played all around the world and a recent review in The New York Times of a concert they gave said that they were “one of the finest quartets in the world.” So we were honoured to have them play for us in our little hall.
They played sublimely, they were magnificent. They started with a late Mozart quartet, opus K549, the last but one composition that he made (for those who are not familiar with the notation, K stands for Koechel, the man who classified all Mozart’s works roughly chronologically). Then they played the two movement Rachmaninov quartet no. 1, that was excellent, and they finished with two movements from a Debussy quartet that was out of this world. I was disappointed that they did not have time to play the Ravel string quartet, one of my favorites, that was on the program. Truly a wonderful musical experience. For more about the Amernet quartet see their web-site www.amernetquartet.com