WORKS: Chromatic Fantasy; Concertino; String Quartet No. 1
PERFORMER: Brodsky Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: SILKD 6014
Coupling the work of jazz musician Dave Brubeck with quartets by Stravinsky and Weill may seem rather bizarre programme planning. But there are clear links between all three works on this excellently recorded disc, not least an exploration of the chorale and, by implication, a strong devotion to the music of Bach.
The Bachian legacy is most apparent in Brubeck’s large-scale Chromatic Fantasy, whose musical material is directly inspired by the master’s famous keyboard work of the same name. Conceived in four movements which encompass not only a chorale, but also a fugue and an expansive chaconne, Brubeck’s composition is highly accessible in idiom, expertly written and brilliantly played. Rhythmically, however, I found it a little four-square, which is surprising given Brubeck’s jazz background. This weakness is made all the more apparent when it is followed by Stravinsky’s Concertino – surely one of the most rhythmically exhilarating chamber works ever written.
Unfortunately, Weill’s First String Quartet also suffers in comparison with the Stravinsky, for despite some attractive moments, particularly in the concluding ‘Choralephantasie’, the work lacks the Russian master’s economy of means and his sure sense of structural direction. Once again, however, the Brodsky Quartet deliver as committed an account of the work as one could imagine. Erik Levi