Friday, November 18, 2016
Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, PA
- Mozart String Quartet No. 21 in D Major, K. 575
- Schumann String Quartet No. 3 in A Major, Op. 41
- Dvorák String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96 “American”
Dumas’ three musketeers plus d’Artagnan have nothing on the four Frenchmen of the Modigliani Quartet for égalité and fraternité, and local concertgoers who were thrilled by their CMSOB performance three years ago are at liberté to relish their smooth sound and continental élan on this return visit to Bethlehem. Fresh listeners are also welcome—and may expect to become instant fans.
Together since schooldays (thus, fraternité), they formed the ensemble in 2003 and immediately impressed critics with their “balance” (there’s the égalité), which has only seasoned with the passage of time. Asked in a 2015 interview with Libération how the quartet had aged in a dozen years, they replied that, “We know ourselves better; we are in accord with our choices. Our decisions are collegial.” One of those decisions was to take on the artistic direction of the revived summer festival Rencontres Musicales d’Evian, once famously helmed by Mstislav Rostropovich, and they are justly proud of the festival’s new success.
Recording for Mirare for eight of the ensemble’s thirteen years together, the Modigliani has garnered numerous accolades for its CDs, the most recent of which (2015) includes Dvorák’s “American” string quartet, which the Bethlehem audience will hear. About the CD, the Guardian reviewer wrote: “Fast passages . . . are full of spontaneity and buoyancy, with a great conversational bravura between the players plus an added refinement . . . . The sound is mainly light and shiny . . . the litheness is invigorating, and there’s a stripped-back beauty in the slow movements that stopped me in my tracks.”