In their Philadelphia debut Thursday night, the Modigliani Quartet seemed to need some time to size up the Perelman Theater. This was the first stop on a U.S. tour, and the Paris-based group, opening with Haydn in a Philadelphia Chamber Music Society appearance, was reasonably tight. But something clicked in the next piece, Schumann, and from then on, they - and you - felt surety about the quartet's personality.
What kind of personality it was shifted throughout the evening. The opening of the Haydn, the String Quartet in G Major, Opus 76, No. 1, put perfectly matched sounds on display with a figure that passed from cellist François Kieffer, to violist Laurent Marfaing, second violinist Loïc Rio, and first violinist Philippe Bernhard. They made smart choices about where to use vibrato, often avoiding it altogether on sustained notes, suggesting period-appropriate awareness.