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MUSIC REVIEW : Parisii Group Debuts at Doheny Mansion

Favorable reports about the Parisii Quartet, formed a decade ago by graduates of the Paris Conservatory, have been reaching these shores lately. Southland chamber-music aficionados were given the opportunity to judge for themselves the ensemble’s skills on Friday when the ever-enterprising Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary’s College presented its local debut at the Doheny Mansion. The impression made was a decidedly positive one.

The Parisii--violinists Thierry Brodard and Jean-Michel Berrette, violist Dominique Lobet, cellist Jean-Philippe Martignoni--hardly confines itself to the qualities of understatement, as purveyors primarily of half-lights, pastels and other cliched elements of a presumed Gallic Style. Which is not to say that the players cannot convey them, as evidenced by their fragrant presentation of the tiny, wistfully charming String Quartet (1919) of Germaine Tailleferre, the all-but-forgotten female member of “Les Six,” the otherwise celebrated circle of between-wars French composers.

With Haydn’s familiar “Lark” Quartet the group gave notice of a strong, balanced ensemble tone, projected by admirably centered intonation and judiciously applied vibrato. This was bold, long-bow-strokes Haydn, more intent on rhythmic vitality than sly charm.

The bulk of the program was given over to one of the mightiest challenges in the repertory, Schubert’s lengthy, sublime Quartet in G, D. 887, memorably presented by the Sine Nomine Quartet of Lausanne at the Doheny Mansion, under the same auspices, two years ago.

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If the Parisii didn’t efface memories of that all-encompassing interpretation, they did themselves proud nonetheless with playing as attentive to the vast score’s songfulness as to its dramatic intensity.

Only in the finale did they disappoint somewhat, with first violinist Brodard unwilling, or unable, to lighten up and dance to the tunes that Schubert, in his infinite wisdom, created to provide contrast to all the hard-breathing that preceded.


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