Sabine Meyer & Modigliani String Quartet reviewed in the West Australian
Neville Cohn, The West Australian
7 November 2011
She may well be the most celebrated classical clarinettist on the planet but in ensemble with fellow musicians there is not a hint of grandstanding, of hogging the limelight.
On the contrary, Sabine Meyer, at the height of her formidable powers, scrupulously observes the niceties of musical democracy in performance. And this was wondrously apparent in ensemble with the Modigliani Quartet in Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet at the weekend.
From first note to last, this was an account to cherish, not least for its absolute fidelity to the score in stylistic terms. And there was such unanimity of action in even the tiniest detail, it seemed as if all five musicians were drawing on a shared musical consciousness. The finale, a set of variations, was almost beyond criticism in the conventional sense. I particularly admired the third variation, which enabled one to savour the extraordinary finesse and fluency of Laurent Marfaing’s playing on the viola.
Earlier, we heard Ian Munro’s Songs from the Bush. The outer movements draw on Australian folk melodies from both indigenous and settler sources but the central Campfire and Night Sky is completely original material, sombre and introspective. The finale, with rhythmic hand-tapping on viola and cello, came across as a quietly celebratory utterance.
There was also a rare airing of Schumann’s Quartet, opus 41 No. 3. While lacking the spontaneity of his finest music for piano, it’s a work well worth an occasional airing and the Modigliani players did it proud. This was a splendid finale to Musica Viva’s 2011 concert series.