The Brodsky Quartet

Janácek: String Quartets No. 1 & 2; Pohádka; Violin Sonata

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This may be the best recording the Brodsky Quartet has ever made. The English press has justly celebrated its ardently ironic interpretations of Shostakovich's quartets and compositional collaborations with Elvis Costello, but this 2006 disc of Leos Janácek's pair of string quartets plus his violin sonata and Pohádka for cello and piano plays directly to the Brodsky's greatest strength: its passionate intensity. As admirers of the Moravian eccentric already know, Janácek in his string quartets was the most sexually explicit fin de siècle composer this side of Scriabin. The first was called the "Kreutzer Sonata" after Tolstoy's story of adultery and murder and the second called "Intimate Letters" after the supremely sensual missives the composer wrote a young married mother with whom he was smitten, are truly, deeply, profoundly sensual works, and the Brodsky tears into the music like sailors on shore leave. In the first quartet, the Brodsky's jagged lines, saw-toothed attack, and especially its relentless Con moto tempos' sweaty strength is just what the music calls for. In the second quartet, the Brodsky's lush tone, voluptuous intonation, and particularly the seductive intimacy of the ensemble in the central Adagio is exactly what the music wants. Generously filling out the disc, Brodsky cellist Jacqueline Thomas and guest pianist Martin Cousin create an atmosphere of eager anticipation in the Pohádka, while Brodsky first violinist Andrew Haveron and Cousin create a scene of warm expectancy in the violin sonata. Needless to say, Brodsky Records' sound is exemplary: clear and honest, if perhaps too close in some climaxes.

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