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Modigliani Quartet

Friday, November 10, 2017 7:30 PM Weill Recital Hall
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Modigliani Quartet by Marie Staggat
Quartets by two composers not primarily known for chamber music bookend a restless work by Brahms. Puccini composed his emotionally intense Crisantemi as an elegy for a nobleman and used it later in his opera Manon Lescaut. The challenging first violin part of Saint-Saëns’s String Quartet in E Minor was written for virtuoso violinist Eugène Ysaÿe, but it is also memorable for its eloquent slow movement and scherzo with lively variations on a Breton folk song. The edgy quality of Brahms’s String Quartet No. 1 is balanced by sublime lyricism and dramatic fire in its finale.

Part of: Quartets Plus


Modigliani Quartet
·· Amaury Coeytaux, Violin
·· Loïc Rio, Violin
·· Laurent Marfaing, Viola
·· François Kieffer, Cello


PUCCINI Crisantemi
BRAHMS String Quartet No. 1 in C Minor
SAINT-SAËNS String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor

DVOŘÁK Lento from String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96, "American"

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

At a Glance


In 1890, three years before he scored his first major success with the opera Manon Lescaut, Puccini composed this brief musical memorial for a member of the Italian royal family who befriended him in his youth. The title translates to “chrysanthemums,” flowers traditionally associated with mourning in Italian culture. Puccini thought so highly of the poignantly lyrical music that he reused it in the tragic denouement of Manon Lescaut.

JOHANNES BRAHMS  String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51, No. 1

The mercilessly self-critical Brahms dismissed his C-Minor Quartet as “mean and paltry,” but posterity has rendered a different verdict on his masterpiece. The two Op. 51 quartets are dedicated to Theodor Billroth, Brahms’s surgeon friend in Vienna and an accomplished amateur violist. Billroth knew better than to take the composer’s dismissive judgment at face value. “These dedications will keep our names known longer than our best work,” he remarked to a fellow dedicatee.

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS  String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 112

Saint-Saëns wrote the first of his two string quartets in 1899. Although he had garnered practically every musical honor and award that France had to offer, the 65-year-old composer was wary of inviting comparison with Beethoven and had long balked at writing a quartet. Characterizing his forthcoming masterpiece as “sad,” he warned his publisher that it would be “very difficult to play and not terribly fun to listen to … My word! When people go to hear quartets, they’re well aware it’s not for laughs.”


Modigliani Quartet

Formed in 2003, the Modigliani Quartet appears at the world’s top venues and festivals, including Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein, and the Marlboro, Edinburgh, Lucerne, and Schleswig-Holstein festivals.

In the 2017–2018 season, the quartet will tour in the United States, Japan, Korea, and throughout Europe, returning to London’s Wigmore Hall, Paris’s Philharmonie, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Salzburg’s Mozarteum, and Warsaw’s Philharmonic Hall. It will also play in the inaugural season of Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie in 2017.

The Modigliani Quartet has recorded for the Mirare label since 2008, and has released seven award-winning albums to great critical acclaim in several countries. Its most recent release is a complete recording of Schumann’s three string quartets.

After attending the Conservatoire de Paris, the members of the Modigliani studied with the Ysaÿe Quartet in Paris, attended master classes with Walter Levin and György Kurtág, and worked with the Artemis Quartet at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. The quartet regularly performs chamber music with world-class musicians, including Sabine Meyer, Renaud Capuçon, Nicholas Angelich, Lynn Harrell, Julian Rachlin, Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, and Daniel Müller-Schott.

Thanks to the generosity and support of private sponsors, the Modigliani Quartet plays on four outstanding Italian instruments: Amaury Coeytaux and Loïc Rio play, respectively, 1773 and 1780 violins by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini; Laurent Marfaing plays a 1660 viola by Luigi Mariani; and François Kieffer plays a 1706 cello by Matteo Goffriller. The members of the Modigliani Quartet are also thankful for the help of SPEDIDAM; they are indebted to this organization, without which they would not be able to tour.

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