Named for Amedeo Modigliani, the Italian portraitist and sculptor who came into his own following a midlife move to France, the rapturous Modigliani Quartet embraces a wide range of repertoire. Ever since these four close friends formed the quartet in 2003 after studying at the famed Paris Conservatoire, they have recorded widely in the standard repertoire and brought to light works by many lesser-known composers. Such versatility has earned high praise, too: according to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Modigliani is "stylish but not faddish, infused with fine shades and ineffable sophistication."
In Durham, the Modigliani concentrates on the romantic strain, beginning with the Schubert "Quartettsatz" - the spirited first movement of an unfinished quartet - and Brahms' halting and haunting Quartet in C Minor. Though best known for his operas, Puccini often wrote for string quartet; the Modigliani delivers his elegiac masterpiece, the heartrending Crisantemi. The program closes with Mendelssohn's Sixth String Quartet, an emotionally turbulent work written shortly after the death of his sister, the composer and pianist Fanny Mendelssohn.