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Schubert: String Quintet; ‘Quartettsatz’ (Brodskys)

Laura ven der Heijden (cello); Brodsky Quartet (Chandos)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

String Quintet, D956*; String Quartet No. 12 in C minor, D703 ‘Quartettsatz’
*Laura ven der Heijden (cello); Brodsky Quartet
Chandos CHAN 10978   66:52 mins


This release marks the Brodsky Quartet’s 50th anniversary. As with any ensemble of such longevity, personnel changes have happened along the way; and last year Krysia Osostowicz joined as leader, having herself led the Dante Quartet outstandingly for many years beforehand. While the Brodsky Quartet’s reputation has always been stellar, on this evidence the change has been a masterclass in the art of seamless renewal.

One of the ensemble’s finest qualities is its refusal to succumb to the over-projected, in-your-face approach that disfigures a fair amount of today’s chamber music playing. In this exceptional interpretation of Schubert’s C major Quintet, there are plenty of moments where the players individually or collectively make something happen – a tiny inflection in the phrasing here, an applied touch of colour there. Yet nothing is overdone, and the music always flows as it wants to. The Adagio second movement’s turbulent central episode – so often turned into a wrong-headed post-Mahlerian psychodrama – here sings in a long, unexaggerated line that relates naturally to the rapt lyricism of the outer sections, where Osostowicz’s delivery of the first violin’s gentle commentary mesmerises in its loveliness. Laura van der Heijden’s contribution on second cello is an unobtrusive and constant pleasure, beautifully balanced in duet with Jacqueline Thomas’s principal cello in the outer movements.

While the Quartettsatz, for all its charm, can’t match the musical wonders of the Quintet, it earns its place here as an extended and engagingly played encore.


Malcolm Hayes