The Modigliani Quartet returns to Sydney after its first Australian tour four years ago with clarinettist Sabine Meyer, having gone from strength to strength and now regarded as one of the top French quartets of its generation.
Formed in 2003 by four close friends who continue in the ensemble to this day, the Modigliani Quartet has performed at venues around the world which include the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Brussel’s Bozar and Vienna’s Musikverein and Konzerthaus.
The group has also released five albums that have received critical acclaim and won numerous awards. Two of their CDs were nominated as Strad Selections.
In October, they return to Australia for their first solo national tour during which they will present two programs of masterworks by Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven, Shostakovich, and Dvorak.
Violinist Philippe Bernhard says that Haydn is one of the composers whose music they worked on deeply as a quartet, while creating their personality and signature sound. “He’s very inventive, with a lot of humour – that’s why we were drawn to him” he adds.
Of the Schubert works – String Quartets no 10 and 12 – violinist Loïc Rio says, “They’re very intense, with constantly changing moods and colours. You never know if you are happy or sad, but they are beautiful.”
Of the early Beethoven piece – String Quartet no 11 – Rio says, “It’s a very strong piece and comes before the big ones at the end of his life that are very intense and concentrated. We are still building our Beethoven repertoire, but our approach is to start with the early works and some from the middle period.”
Philippe Bernhard plays a 1780 violin by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, Loïc Rio plays a 1734 violin by Alessandro Gagliano and Laurent Marfaing plays a 1660 viola by Luigi Mariani. Due to unforeseen circumstances, cellist François Kieffer is being replaced on this tour by Christophe Morin who leads the European Camerata. He also plays with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado and Daniel Harding.
François Kieffer unfortunately met with a motorcycle accident last week. Mercifully his injuries were minor but they have prevented him from performing on the Australian tour. Christophe Morin’s generosity in stepping in at short notice to fill the void ensures that the tour can proceed. However, it has necessitated some programme changes which means that Nigel Westlake’s String Quartet No 2 has had to be omitted from the lineup and replaced by the String Quartet no 1 in C major, opus 49 by Shostakovich.
‘We wish François a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in Australia in the future.’ observed Musica Viva Artistic Director, Carl Vine AO, adding ‘Nigel’s work is a stunning piece of music that deserves to be heard around the world. Several classical works had to be pulled from the program to allow the new cellist to prepare in time, and the additional pressure of learning unfamiliar new music could simply not be accommodated. The group itself has fallen in love with the Westlake, and hopes to present it in one of their coming international seasons. I will be programming it again in Australia as soon as possible.’
Program One, Sydney October 10:
HAYDN String Quartet op 50 no 1 /SCHUBERT String Quartet no 10 in E flat major, op 125/BEETHOVEN String Quartet no 11 in F minor, op 95 ‘Serioso’/SHOSTAKOVICH String Quartet no 1 in C major opus 49.
Program Two, Sydney October 12:
HAYDN String Quartet op 50 no 1 /SHOSTAKOVICH String Quartet no 1 in C major opus 49./SCHUBERT String Quartet no 12 in C minor, ‘Quartettsatz’/ DVORÁK String Quartet no 14 op 96 ‘American’
Bookings: Call 1800 688 482 or visit musicaviva.com.au/Modigliani