The Modigliani Quartet, based in Paris, was formed by four close friends in 2003. The quartet has been recording for the Mirare label since 2008 and recently released a complete album of the Schumann String Quartets. In 2014, the Modigliani Quartet became Artistic Directors of the Rencontres Musicales d’Evian, a festival created in 1976 by Antoine Riboud. Additionally, they initiated the Atelier within the Festival in 2016 and have been collaborating in a series of Masterclasses at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, since 2017. The quartet has performed throughout Europe, Asia, and in the United States. Thanks to the generous support of private sponsors, the Modigliani quartet musicians are able to perform on four outstanding Italian instruments: Amaury Coeytaux plays a 1773 violin by Guadagnini, Loic Rio plays a 1734 violin by Alessandro Gagliano, Laurent Marfaing plays a 1660 viola by Luigi Mariani, François Kieffer plays a 1706 cello by Matteo Goffriller.
Franz Schubert composed the Quartettsatz in 1820, though it did not receive its premiere until March 1, 1867, in Vienna. The year of its composition is noteworthy because Schubert was undergoing an identity crisis in 1820 as a 23-year-old prodigy and he abandoned almost all the works he had begun that year. In fact, he left dozens of unfinished compositions and this is particularly true of his string quartets because, in this genre, Schubert was mindful of the immense shadow cast by Beethoven. Of all Schubert’s unfinished quartets, the Quartettsatz is the only one that is regularly performed, thus it has become known as the “unfinished” much like his eighth symphony. Evidence suggests that he wrote the piece to serve as a first or final movement of a four-movement work. Additionally, the Quartettsatz marked a departure from Schubert’s previous quartets as all of his earlier pieces were written as Hausmusik, or music intended to be played in the home by amateur musicians. Schubert was now clearly writing with professional musicians in mind. The Quartettsatz remains, after Death and the Maiden, Schubert’s most popular and enduring quartet.
Antonín Dvořák composed the Quartet in F Major, Op. 96 in 1893. It was written during the summer he spent in the small Czech community of Spillville, Iowa, where he had brought his wife and children to experience the American Midwest. Dvořák had left his home in Vysoká, Czechoslovakia in 1892 and accepted the directorship of the National Conservatory of Music in New York and the small town offered him a much-needed respite after a stressful year in New York City. The American Quartet was premiered January 1, 1894, in Boston, Massachusetts, by the Kneisel Quartet. Its nickname comes from the fact that it was one of the works composed while he was living in the United States. The same period also inspired him to create his renowned Ninth Symphony, From the New World. Though the pieces he wrote during this time were unmistakably inspired by the music he encountered in America, due to intense homesickness, they also include some of his most intensely Czech.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator