Tchaikovsky: String Quartet No. 2 in F; String Quartet No. 3 in E flat minor

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COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Brodsky
ALBUM TITLE: Brodsky Quartet
WORKS: String Quartet No. 2 in F; String Quartet No. 3 in E flat minor
PERFORMER: Brodsky Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: BRD 3500
According to Jacqueline Thomas’s

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personable notes for this issue,

Tchaikovsky wept at the original

Brodsky Quartet’s impromptu

performance of his Third Quartet.

Would he have done the same for its

namesake’s own-label championship

of what remains far from mainstream

repertoire? Possibly not, though he

would no doubt have been moved by

their commitment and impressed by

how modern much in his second and

third quartets sounds today. Most

impressive is the Brodsky’s sense of

long-term adventure. You can hardly

fail to be gripped by the way the

frenetic, very orchestral climax of the

F major Quartet’s opening movement

– quadruple stopping from the violins

– yields by careful degrees to a calmer,

Classicising influence. Surprising,

too, is the way that Andrew Haveron

– a first violinist of whom Brodsky

himself, dedicatee of Tchaikovsky’s

Violin Concerto, would have been

proud – underlines the sheer strength

of will behind the big song of the

finale, a far from easy signature theme

suddenly giving way to what sounds

here like a frenetic, potentially

catastrophic coda.

Unexpectedly, the centre of gravity

is not always to be found in both

quartets’ searching slow movements;

that they do not sear the listener as

usual may be due to the Brodsky’s

decision not to spill the emotional

beans too soon, though there’s still

plenty of forcefulness and focus,

vividly recorded. All I miss is the more

flexible, gracious and occasionally

fantastical handling of the songs and

dances that sets the classic Borodin

Quartet performances apart. This,

though, is fine work and should please

this team’s many admirers. All power

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to the Brodsky label. David Nice