Dohnányi: String Quartet No 3 in A minor, Op 33; Dvořák: String Quartet No 12 in F major (American); Bartók: String Quartet No 2

Reviewed on Wed 18 Nov, 2015

Composed in 1926, the last of Dohnányi's three strings quartets forms the disc's highlight, this talented Parisian ensemble doing ample justice to its communicative flair, superior craftsmanship and twinkling mischief.

The Modigliani Quartet's latest Mirare offering brings impressively secure, red-blooded readings of three substantial masterworks. Composed in 1926, the last of Dohnányi's three strings quartets forms the disc's highlight, this talented Parisian ensemble doing ample justice to its communicative flair, superior craftsmanship and twinkling mischief (the eloquent set of variations at its heart is traversed with especial insight). Elsewhere, Dvořák's adorable American Quartet receives lean, lucid and unsentimental treatment with striking transparency of texture and harmony, though I'd have welcomed a touch more songful warmth and smiling affection. Nor, I fancy, will everyone go a bundle on the first violin's (unmarked) cheeky harmonic slide at the start of the finale. In the Bartók the central Allegro molto capriccioso goes best. However, I'm not persuaded that the Modigliani convey enough of the devastating heartache of the concluding Lento (comparison with, say, the Tokyo or Takács on DG and Decca is instructive). An attractive and generous programme, nonetheless; vivid sound and truthful balance, too. Recommended, especially for the Dohnányi.
–Andrew Achenbach