Tag Archives: Brodsky Quartet

Korngold: talent or time-waster? The Brodskys can help you decide…

It’s over fifty years since the death of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, presciently given his middle name by parents who must have been sure their child would, like the other great Wolfgang, be something of a child prodigy. Fifty years later, opinion is divided over whether Korngold was a musical genius or a reactionary who preferred to ignore musical modernism in favour of self-indulgent music, pining for a lost age.

Wunderkind: the young composer

The talented Viennese wunderkind was hailed by Mahler and Puccini as a child, and by the tender age of nineteen Korngold had already written a clutch of chamber works and had two one-act operas staged to great acclaim.

Korngold moved to Hollywood in the 1930s to write film scores for Warner Bros, a move which has perhaps contributed to his lack of esteem in critical circles: sadly, there’s still a sense that ‘great composers don’t write film music,’ an idea with which John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith might take issue… And anyone who has heard the sweeping lyricism of the Violin Concerto or the effortless handling of musical ideas in the second and third string quartets might also have something to say about Korngold’s facility for melodic invention and expressive writing.

You can make up your own minds as the Brodsky Quartet brings Korngold’s lyrical Second String Quartet to the Gulbenkian Theatre in their concert this month, along with Gershwin’s evocative Lullaby, Wolf’s sunny Italian Serenade, and Beethoven’s mighty op.132; details and tickets online here.

Here’s a foretaste of the Korngold with the lyrically dancing ‘Waltz’ of the final movement.


Still young at forty: the Brodsky Quartet celebrates at the Wigmore Hall

For anyone who can’t wait until March 23 to hear the Brodsky Quartet when it comes to the Gulbenkian Theatre, news just lands on my desk of their fortieth anniversary concert at the Wigmore Hall in a few weeks’ time, on Sunday 11 March.

In an intriguing programme, the Quartet will present their own arrangement of Ravel’s Blues, the third movement of a work originally falling as part of Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Piano. Post-war American jazz was rife in Paris in the ‘twenties, and the second movement of Ravel’s chamber sonata revels in added-notes, ‘blue’ notes and jazz-inflected rhythms.

The programme also includes Schubert’s enigmatic Quartettsatz, Puccini’s Cristantemi, Wolf’s sunlit Italian Serenade, whilst the second half continues the French theme, given over to Debussy’s majestic String Quartet.

Young at forty: the Brodsky Quartet

The concert also marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Quartet’s Wigmore Hall début, and shows that, at forty years old, the Quartet retains all the vigour and dynamism of its youth and its unique approach to programming. Expect a concert delivered with verve and panache, although there’s no mention about cake and candles. As yet…

Further details and tickets online here.

(Preview excerpts via LastFM).

New concert diary now online

Looking at the new concert diary over the next four months, I think it’s fair to say this is one of the busiest I’ve seen here at the University.

Big bandEvents kick off in a few week’s time with the award-winning St James Quintet opening the Lunchtime Concert series for the term with an eclectic programme for wind quintet. February begins with a bang as the Concert and Big Bands storm back to the Gulbenkian in ‘Nice ‘n’ Easy,’ with a selection including classic Duke Ellington and pieces fromWicked, to name but a few; the Chamber Choir will take you on an evocative journey ‘From Morn to Midnight‘ in the intimacy of Canterbury Cathedral Crypt towards the end of the month.

March promises to be an epic month; there’s the glory of the Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert as the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra unite in Haydn’s Creation; student and staff musicians in Jazz @ 5; the exciting prospect of Korngold’s lyrical second string quartet with the Brodskys; exoticism from the Bamboo and Silk Ensemble; not one – not two – but three bands as the Concert and Big Bands team up with St. Edmund’s School for Big Bands3, before the term finishes with a valedictory lunchtime concert at St Peter’s Church in Canterbury from the newly-founded University Mistral Ensemble and the Chamber Choir.


Click here to view online, and get the dates in your diaries now, or download a copy of the brochure as a PDF. Something for everyone…

Elegance, a dance and a prayer: Brodskys at the Wigmore Hall

Brodsky Quartet
The Brodsky Quartet

If anyone missed their last performance here when they visited the University back in February, when they brought a flavour of the exotic to Canterbury – and given the packed Gulbenkian Theatre that night, there might well have been a few who couldn’t get a seat! – then you’ll be pleased to hear the world-renowned Brodsky Quartet is back in action again next month at London’s Wigmore Hall.

The group’s concert  on Friday 3rd June at 7.00pm includes two masterworks of the twentieth-century string quartet repertoire, as well as the chance to hear something slightly off the beaten track. The programme includes Ravel’s lyrically translucent and only String Quartet, Bartok’s mighty String Quartet No. 1, and Turina’s La Oracion del Torero, a little-known Spanish work coloured with the vibrant rhythms and harmonies of Spain.

This concert celebrates the release of the Brodsky Quartet’s new CD, ‘Rhythm and Texture’ (Orchid/Brodsky Records), which also includes a recording of Ravel’s sublime masterpiece.

As regular audiences and fans of the group will know, the Brodskys deliver their concerts with verve, passion, considerable flair and tremendous vitality – their February concert this year saw them in their usual fine form, and this concert is not to be missed!

Tickets can be booked on-line via the Wigmore Hall website here; download your copy of the flyer by clicking here (PDF), and catch up with the Quartet and their blog on their own website here.

Be My Guest: Danielle Broadbent reviews the Brodsky Quartet

Be My Guest: an occasional series of guest posts and contributions. This week, a review of the recent Brodsky Quartet concert at the Gulbenkian Theatre by Danielle Broadbent. Danielle is a second-year Architecture student, and Music Scholarship Student. She plays the cello in the University Symphony Orchestra, and has also set up some additional string groups.


Brodsky QuartetThere was a good turn-out at the Brodsky Quartet concert at the Gulbenkian on Wednesday 19th May.

Many people come regularly to see the group play, so the audience knew to expect a good evening. There was a really friendly atmosphere with even a group of young people from St. Edmund’s School among the audience. It’s so easy to get to that I was surprised: for just £7 for a Student Stand-By ticket, you would have to pay a lot more to get such a professional performance any where else!

The quartet plays standing up which is unusual but works really well. It allows for lots of movement, which means that the group sometimes looks like they are dancing as they play. The four players dip and dive, showing the spark between them as they work together in a really strong team.  The first violinist is very expressive. His showy, tapping, style took him up to two metres away from the stand at times! Complimenting this is the unfussy, solid performance of the second violinist. The viola player is the spokesman of the group, introducing pieces with interesting facts and a few jokes. Beautifully interwoven with his approach is the elegant playing of the cellist. There is a definite sparkle within the group, as they use eye-contact and general movement to bring the music alive. Their playing is so well integrated that it sometimes feels like they are holding a musical conversation.

The first piece was Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C Minor (K546). We were told how Mozart took the examples of Bach and Handel and said ‘I can do better!’ The playing was crystal-clear with incredibly expressive playing from inside players. They made the most of the silences in the piece and looked like they had great fun playing the last movement.

The second piece was the Schumann Quartet in A Major, op. 41 no 3. 2010 is Schumann’s 200th birthday celebration year and last time the Brodskys came to the Gulbenkian earlier this year they also played his music. There was rapturous applause, and even cheers at the end of the piece!

After the interval, the concert continued with Tchaikovsky’s first quartet in D major.  This came complete with regulation coughs and shuffles between movements! The first movement was stirring, the second beautiful and the third fascinating, but the masterful, boisterous and playful rendition of the final movement was definitely my favourite part. The clever programming and showmanship of the performers worked the audience up so that the applause left no-one in any doubt that an encore was necessary!

This turned out to be the group’s own arrangement of a piano piece from Schumann’s Album for the Young. The tired but jubilant quartet settled the audience down with this lovely, quiet piece rounding up the concert in style.

Written by Danielle Broadbent.

The Brodsky Quartet in 2008, playing the Brahms Clarinet Quintet: