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Quatuor Vendôme Dazzles Intimate Crowd at DiMenna Center

by Melanie Wong


If you were one of the 25 people in the basement of the DiMenna Center last Friday, you were among the lucky few who witnessed a truly remarkable performance by preeminent French clarinet quartet Quatuor Vendôme. Formed in 2002, QV’s members—Alexandre Chabod, Julien Chabod, Nicolas Baldeyrou, and Franck Amet—also hold full-time positions in some of France’s top orchestras and conservatories.

In addition to being exceptional clarinetists, the four are also gifted arrangers, orchestrating many of their pieces themselves. As far as clarinet quartets go, QV is unparalleled in all aspects of their artistry: their sound is consistently homogenous, their technique is exceptionally virtuosic, and their intonation is inhumanly close to perfect.

Opening the program, QV energetically bounced through a Baroque-style quartet by Jean-Phillipe Rameau before moving on to an opera fantasy based on themes from Rossini’s Barber of Seville. Equally at home as soloists and accompanists, the quartet rotated parts throughout the evening, giving each player a chance to shine. Technically speaking, they hopped around the instrument with great facility, and with the utmost sensitivity, QV seamlessly faded in and out of each other’s sounds.

Mid-program, four New York City-based clarinetists—Jon Manasse, Pascual Martinez Forteza, Liam Burke, and David Gould—joined QV for three octets by Astor Piazzolla. As an eight-some, the group produced a hearty sound that remained just as unified. Jazzy, sexy, and distinctly Latin, the players ripped through the glissandi-filled solos with flair; the octets proving to be a blast for both the players and audience alike.

Back to the original roster of four, QV presented an original piece composed for the group, Prelude et Funk by Guillaume Connesson. A slow and pensive opening quickly turned fast and aggressive— an insane technical fury that remained impressively cohesive throughout.

QV ended the program with Lakmé's infamous Flower Duet and Gershwin’s "Oh, Lady Be Good!” Both sweet and lighthearted pieces, QV left the all-too-tiny audience eager for more.

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This event was sponsored by Buffet-Crampon and Vandoren.