Sabine Meyer & Modigliani Quartet reviewed in the Age
Clive O’Connell, The Age
11 November 2011
WINDING down for this year, Musica Viva has a winner in the combination of clarinettist Sabine Meyer and the quietly achieving Modigliani String Quartet. Unlike most ad hoc ensembles, this one works because all concerned put the music first; egos are left at the stage door, these musicians sure enough of their own abilities and insights not to need personality-bolstering showmanship.
Having won a handful of European and US competitions, the Modiglianis have achieved a high level of expertise over their eight-year association, as well as an individual voice. They are blessed in their first violin, Philippe Bernhard, who shows with every gesture and attack that, although he might have the top line, he is part of an amalgam, shaping his output to give his colleagues due prominence.
In this respect, the group’s outlining of the Debussy String Quartet was enlightening. The inner workings and subtle shifts of emphasis emerged throughout an exquisitely judged performance, the combination of viola Laurent Marfaing and cello Francois Kieffer as eloquent as that of Bernhard and second violin Loic Rio, each movement near ideal in execution and polished restraint.
Meyer, a brilliant artist, joined the Frenchmen for a fine account of the Brahms clarinet quintet, matching her colleagues in control and top-level skill in consistency of interpretation, her line also part of the complex rather than insisting on pre-eminence. All showed an absorption in their work that argued strongly for the depth of their collaboration, especially in the brooding, measured adagio pages.