Sabine Meyer and Modigliani String Quartet reviewed in the Rouse Hill Times

Steve Moffat, Rouse Hill Times
9 November 2011

Clarinets, like human beings, suffer from a form of altitude sickness when they climb above sea level.

The reed gets heavy and the player has to work harder. So says Sabine Meyer, and she should know because over three decades the German virtuoso has established herself as one of the most influential and gifted clarinettists in the world.

Altitude, humidity, acoustic and the “feel” of the Angel Place audience must all have been just right when the first woman to breach the male stronghold of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra made her Sydney debut with the crack young Modigliani String Quartet on Monday night.

Two very different clarinet quintets were played in this closing tour for Musica Viva’s 2011 season.

Australian pianist and featured composer Ian Munro wrote Songs From The Bush especially for Meyer and the Modiglianis. The work was inspired by folk tunes from both Aboriginal and Colonial cultures.

Before the work started Munro played a 1960s recording by song collector Alice Moyle of a nine-year-old Walmajarri girl singing a traditional children’s song. Munro had been struck by its melodic similarity to a convict song, Sixteen Thousand Miles.

Movements inspired by these songs acted as bookends to an exquisitely played slow movement subtitled Campfire and Night Sky which faded like a whisper.

A change of mood – and instrument- closed the program with Brahms’s late B minor quintet which marked the composer’s return to music after he threatened to abandon it.

This work allowed Meyer’s seemingly effortless technique and lyricism full scope.

The French Modiglianis were on home ground with a memorable performance of Debussy’s quartet. This was exciting and adventurous playing, full of subtle tints and shades and faultless ensemble work.

This foursome – Philippe Bernhard and Loic Rio, violins, Laurent Marfaing, viola, and Francois Kieffer, cello – are already making a big noise on the international scene and deserve to be ranked alongside those other leading young quartets, the Jerusalem and Artemis.

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Welcome to Musica Viva’s International Concert Season blog. Here you can follow and read more about our wonderful touring artists.

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