Last Friday night’s visit from the Brodsky Quartet was eagerly awaited for two very special reasons; not only was it their chance-driven ‘Wheel of 4-Tunes’ concert celebrating the group’s fortieth birthday, it was also the first formal concert in the new Colyer-Fergusson concert hall.
The programme, chosen on the night by the spin of the wheel, included turns (no pun intended!) from Professor Keith Mander, a member of the public, Music Society Secretary and cellist Aisha Bové, and our very own Sophie Meikle. The pieces the wheel chose were by Piazzolla, Barber, Golijov, and Ravel, and displayed the quartet in their customary eclectic form, whether tango-ing in idiomatic style with Piazolla or exquisitely painting the famous ‘Adagio’ from Barber’s String Quartet.
The final piece in the concert was Ravel’s String Quartet, and it was here that the Brodsky’s revealed their final masterstroke; equally robust and rainbow-hued, Ravel’s piece was shown, in the wider context of the other pieces which had appeared in the programme, to be a modernist piece, bristling with harmonic dissonances, spiky textures, sudden changes of mood and pace, and bold gestures that are often obscured by performance that prefer to embrace Ravel’s Impressionist tendencies. Whilst the quartet was fully alive to the rich and exotic harmonies and sinuous melodic lines that give Ravel this label, they also brought out Ravel’s more striking characteristics in a performance that drew fierce applause from a delighted audience.