Founded at the same time as the Quatuor Ébène, the four men of the Quatuor Modigliani play at an equally high, technically and musically exciting level. The four Frenchmen proved this again in the Prinzregententheater with a well-balanced Beethoven-Schubert programme. The concert began with the last, forward-looking quartet by the 29-year-old Beethoven from his opus 18 and was followed by the D-major quartet by the 14-year-old Schubert with his penultimate quartet and its wonderfully comforting variations on “Death and that girl”.
Amaury Coeytaux and Loïc Rio (violins), the violist Laurent Marfaing and François Kieffer on the cello interacted confidently in the first bars of Beethoven: every chord, every phrase and every accent seemed spontaneous and yet is presumably the result of long rehearsal processes. There was a sense of unity and such precise listening and reacting to one another that one got the paradoxical feeling of being able to hear four people “speaking” at the same time and understand every single word.
The first violinist never behaved like first violin, but after a few tones stepped back into the musical fabric and still led. The cello foundation never played itself to the fore and yet possessed a great authority that acted as if in the background. The slow introduction, which gave the quartet its name (“La Malinconia”) and then the exciting quartet experiment by the young Schubert, who tried out a variety of different things, was fantastically beautiful, something the four French musicians took very seriously and turned into an event.
Then the marvel of the D minor quartet D 810. After a harsh, painful beginning, the supposedly comforting song variations, the grim scherzo and a relentless perpetual motion finale, in which Schubert’s melos repeatedly tries in vain to assert itself, until, played razor-sharp, the catastrophe strikes with the last Prestissimo bars. As an encore, this ending miraculously softened a small, enchanting minuet by the boy Schubert.