Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Brodskys launch their own label with positive, powerful performances.
Over the near quarter-century since the Brodsky Quartet was founded in 1972, when the talented young players were still in their mid-teens, they have made a series of fine recordings, including a complete Shostakovich cycle. Now, frustrated by the present state of the record industry, they have founded their own label, and this excellent disc of two Tchaikovsky quartets is one of the initial issues. When the first of Tchaikovsky’s three quartets is much the most popular, with its Andante cantabile slow movement, it is not surprising that there are many discs coupling that Op 11 work with either of the other two, written respectively three and
five years later. Not until this issue is there a disc currently listed which has Nos 2 and 3 together, both fine works even if they lack any movement quite as memorable as that haunting Andante cantabile.
It says much for the daring of the Brodsky players as a group that they give such positive, powerful performances marked by strong dynamic contrasts and speeds both fast and slow that again make for dramatic contrasts. In such a passage as the slow introduction to No 2 the result is as dramatic as an operatic recitative, and though the start of the main Moderato assai is relatively gentle the build-up of Tchaikovskian passion is irresistible. In the polonaise movement which follows, the sharp marking of rhythms is similarly positive, while the slow movement has a nervy quality with emotions kept barely in check. Only in the Russian dance finale does an element of jollity emerge.
Quartet No 3 is just as sharply characterised, again with each section growing more and more passionate. Though the scherzo second movement lacks some of the Beethovenian humour that other groups find, the Brodsky’s fast tempo makes it sound the more adventurous. The clashing discords at the start of the slow movement bring out the funereal quality specified in the marking Andante funebre, with the finale again bringing an energetic Russian dance. With well-balanced sound, recorded in St Paul’s Church, New Southgate, this makes for a most promising start to an admirable project, following a pattern of enterprise likely to be pursued increasingly.
-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [5/2005]
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