Petits-Fours: Favourite Encores

COMPOSERS: Dvorak,Elgar,etc arranged by Cassidy and Haveron,Falla,Godowsky,Kreisler,Works by Debussy
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Petits Fours: Favourite Encores
WORKS: Works by Debussy, Dvorák, Elgar, Godowsky, Falla, Kreisler, etc arranged by Cassidy and Haveron
PERFORMER: Robert Smissen (viola), Andrew Haveron (violin), Philip Edward Fisher (piano); Brodsky Quartet


What better way for the Brodsky Quartet to celebrate its 40th birthday than with a sumptuously engineered recital of champagne encores, skilfully arranged by the quartet’s viola player, Paul Cassidy, and former leader Andrew Haveron? Acclaimed for their probing musicianship, the Brodsky Quartet blow the musical cobwebs off some of the most cherishable miniatures in the repertoire, imbuing well-worn favourites such as Elgar’s nobilmente-laden Chanson de nuit and Dvorˇák’s fireside-and-slippers Humoresque with radiant sincerity and spontaneity.

Anyone who has ever attempted playing popular classics arranged for string quartet will know just how difficult it can be to make them sound convincing. Yet so swaggeringly sensual is the Brodsky’s Playera (Sarasate), so alluringly suave their Caprice viennois (Elgar), in which they are joined by gifted viola player Robert Smissen, that it becomes hard to imagine these pieces played any other way – or any better.

Even Schumann, whose solo piano music is notoriously resistant to transcription, sounds utterly beguiling here in a heartfelt, half-whispered excerpt from Album für die Jugend, and three pieces from Kinderszenen, in which the piano line, magically phrased by Philip Edward Fisher, is wisely retained. Most memorable of all is a performance of Ravel’s ‘Blues’ (from the G major Violin Sonata) that oozes authentic charisma. Here’s to the next 40 years.


Julian Haylock