Nicholas Yonge Society

Chamber Music in Lewes

18th March 2016

Borodin Scherzo
Shostakovich String Quartet No. 2
Beethoven String Quartet in C# minor Op. 131

Brodsky Quartet in performance 

Well, concerts don't get much more thrilling than this. At the end of a two-week tour of daily concerts that started with live recording of all 15 Shostakovich quartets in Amsterdam, the wonderful Brodsky Quartet still had the energy and the intellectual power to produce the most exciting quartet playing we have heard for a long time. They had barely taken up their positions on the stage when Ian Belton fired the starting pistol on the Borodin Scherzo, and they were off, at such a blistering speed that the Russian amateurs for whom it was written would have been lapped. Shostakovich's second quartet then provided the perfect vehicle both for the passionately varied playing of Daniel Rowland and for the soulful mellowness of Paul Cassidy's viola. The perfect ensemble of the lower parts liberated Daniel who led us masterfully through an exciting and complex quartet.

It would have been impossible to switch immediately from Shostakovich's world to the opening of Beethoven's C# minor quartet – but fortunately the interval allowed the audience to digest what they had heard and to top up their glasses and their raffle tickets . The C# minor quartet is an intellectual and emotional mountain and the Brodsky were our experienced and secure guides. Their playing was an inspiration, unleashing Beethoven's power to transport you to a unique and wonderful world. To play an encore after this would, as Paul Cassidy remarked, be ridiculous, so they did play something ridiculous; well not exactly ridiculous, more a slice of Viennese Sachertorte, arranged by the quartet, to restore our blood-sugar levels and make us fit to face reality again.   

Reviewer: Chris Darwin
Photographer: David James