R e v i e w s
"The brilliant Brodskys celebrate Sydney Opera House’s golden anniversary with three days of music by Bach, Schubert and Britten. Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House
"Throughout, the unmistakable warm and rich Brodsky tone washed through the room.
(Britten 1) The Brodskys ensured a sense of mystery with the opening stratospheric harmonics over Thomas’s plucked chords, before exploding into a frenzied allegro. To the marching band of the second movement they brought a vehement, almost playful recklessness with the sudden stabbing figures, and the long andante calmo third movement had all the unhurried spaciousness of their famed Shostakovich recordings.
The concert was capped by a magnificent performance of Schubert’s massive G major masterpiece… which lifted the genre to heavenly heights. This reading showed why many consider Brodsky to be the best in the business. Thomas’s solo in the second movement, yearning but with a slight bounce that is so often missed by other cellists, was a heart stopping moment.
…the rapt intensity, vision and precision they brought to the granite-like Chacony final movement of Britten’s second quartet left the audience awestruck." by Steve Moffatt for Limelight Magazine, April 2023
Lockdown Livestream Audience Feedback :
"I’ve been to your most recent three recitals at Kings Place and can’t tell you how much each one has given me during these ghastly times. Many thanks for providing these life-affirming evenings; they give light in the darkness"
"Thank you so very much for pushing forward your performance of op.130 and for the opportunity to hear this beautiful music and your beautiful playing one last time before lockdown. This is one of the most important and meaningful responses to such violent, uncontrollable events. In the words of Bernstein: "to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." I know personally the memories and impressions left by the performance will likely get me through the upcoming isolation."
"We were lucky enough again to be in the front row last night for your Kings Place gig.
Another corker, but when aren't they??"
AllMusic Blair Sanderson
"Marking the sestercentennial of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth, the Brodsky Quartet's 2020 box set of the late string quartets on Chandos is an early entry in a year that will be flush with releases and reissues of these revered works. Recorded between 2017 and 2019, the Brodsky's fresh recordings of Beethoven's last major compositions are offered in warm and resonant performances that reflect the group's expressive richness and spiritual depth, while perhaps evoking memories of many interpretations that came before. It's difficult to escape comparisons with historic performances by the great string quartets, particularly in this much-debated and analyzed body of work, but the Brodsky's respect for them allows a measure of freedom to converse with each other within that tradition yet to produce something identifiably their own. The Brodsky Quartet maintains high technical standards and plays meticulously, though their interpretations are full of passion, drama, and wit, which are often unexpected in these inward-looking masterworks. Profound moments in this set include the exquisite Cavatina from the String Quartet in B flat, Op. 130, the transparent Adagio of the String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 131, and the placid "Heiliger Dankgesang" movement from the String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132. However, anyone looking for the ultimate expression of freedom and excitement should look no further than the Große Fuge, Op. 133, which is one of the Brodsky's tightest readings. Newcomers to Beethoven's greatest chamber music can't go wrong with this exceptional package, and even experienced listeners will find much to appreciate, even if the Brodsky's set might not supplant long-held personal favorites."
"The Brodsky Quartet, with a new violinist, at the top of its game"
CD : Golden Oldies
"The Brodsky Quartet, recently turned 50, formed when cellist Jacqueline Thomas and violinist Ian Belton were ten and 11 years old respectively. The quartet has released CDs of encore-style pieces before, but this one has been specially assembled for its golden anniversary. Most of the 20 works included are arrangements made by the quartet members themselves. Thomas was just 13 when she adapted Scott Joplin’s Solace for string quartet, and it’s played here with a beguiling charm and affection. Thomas also contributes quartet versions of two movements from Shostakovich’s Five Pieces for Two Violins and Piano, the second dispatched with a lightly worn wit and gracefulness.
Violist Paul Cassidy places his wife Thomas into the spotlight in his elegant Saint-Saëns arrangement, Les Cygnes, where instead of one swan there are two. Laura van der Heijden is the second cellist, continuing a partnership begun on the Brodsky’s outstanding recent recording of Schubert’s String Quintet. Van der Heijden also features in Cassidy’s arrangements of Debussy’s ‘Des pas sur la neige’ and Prelude No. 10 from Book 1 of Bach’s Das wohltemperierte Klavier.
Pianist Julian Jacobson has a brief cameo in a poignant re-casting of Elgar’s Adieu, and the Brodsky’s newest member, first violinist Krysia Osostowicz, contributes effective quartet arrangements of three Gnossiennes by Satie. Osostowicz has slotted seamlessly, and stylishly, into the Brodsky Quartet since joining two years ago, and the easy synergy the group demonstrates throughout this winningly played recital bodes well for its sixth decade of existence." Terry Blain BBC Music Magazine
CD: Schubert Cello Quintet
"Timeless, ageless music-making. Profound depth of understanding, sonorously contemplative playing. A real treat." Chosen by BBC Radio 3’s Andrew McGregor as his Pick of the Week
"In this exceptional interpretation, 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."
Malcolm Hayes, Classical Music Magazine
"A wonderfully distinctive recording… Think buoyancy and definition – with plenty of air surrounding the staccatos, and crisply precise note values, into which come expertly weighted rubatos and pauses. There’s fine dynamic clarity, and a dry-toned lucidity intoned with aching sweetness one moment, acerbic punch the next. The work’s quietness, fragility and violence all feel grippingly magnified.” Charlotte Gardner, Strad magazine
CD: Rocking Horse Road, Chandos
"An eclectic collection of songs with the rich, velvety voice of Jacqui Dankworth. “ Rocking Horse Road is a carefully structured, lovingly crafted offering that makes for fascinating, deeply satisfying listening” Strad magazine
CD : Beethoven Late Quartets, Chandos “Dramatic, not slavish followers of tempo markings or metronome marks. The depth and richness of the sound is really satisfying. The speeds are on the slow side but they heighten the sense of drama and there’s an expressive freedom that really helps with the awareness of Beethoven stepping boldly into completely new territory. The Brodskys reaffirm the newness of these Late Quartets, their extraordinary apparent originality, and any ensemble that can do that in this anniversary year is to be treasured.” Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3
CD: Elgar String Quartet & Piano Qunitet with Martin Roscoe, Chandos
"Deeply affecting performances... An edge of your seat performance …in which these supremely gifted players shine a searing torch into areas usually left half-explored.
Gloriously opulent yet detailed sound captures each unmissable moment to perfection."
Julian Haylock The Strad.
"BQ and MR were perfect partners, totally in sympathy with each other and the music, generating a flow and dynamic momentum which was utterly absorbing. The BQ turn in a powerful performance of the String Quartet which is both pensive and forceful. Elgarians should be all over this impressive new release.” BBC Radio 3
Melbourne Recital Centre
"The Brodskys showcased every nuance of their extraordinary skills. From their individual prowess to their near-telepathic sense of ensemble and their chameleonesque ability to inhabit the sound-world of any period, this was a performance that seemed boundless in possibility.
But it was the more stripped back, though no less affecting, textures of Shostakovich’s profoundly moving eighth quartet....that fully revealed why this quartet is considered one of the world’s best."
Sydney Morning Herald
"Very early on it became obvious that the Brodsky Quartet is made up of supreme talent. Their cohesion and perfect blending were inspiring as they passed the lead from one to the other in seamless transition. This could happen in single phrases with the music passing from one player to the next. Their balance was so fine the eyes could follow the sound. They took the light, rather transparent character of these pieces and made them charming and delightful."
Utzon Room SOH
"A spellbinding glimpse at a new era for the ground-breaking Brodsky Quartet.
...it was obvious to all that the “new era” will be as exciting as all those that have gone before.
...it was immediately apparent that McCormack had no problems melding with the trademark bold, adventurous and warm tone and approach of her new collaborators.
(Grosse Fugue)...a highly nuanced performance with some magical moments in the quieter passages before the whirlwind finale was unleashed.
There was a pause of almost a minute before the audience applauded – testimony to the spell that the new-look Brodsky Quartet had cast."
"A rollercoaster of emotions.
The British Brodsky Quartet has once again proved their quality and diversity. They are rightly regarded as amazing interpreters of music.
The Brodskys took the audience on an emotional roller coaster of a ride, with highs, and lows, tensions and dissonance, but also with long passages of beguiling beauty . Everyone could take something from their playing and the audiences did just that, They were extremely attentive and enthralled at the end.
Their (the BQ's) amazing ability to play as one; the precision and dazzling versatility which the members showed in each work, was all the more noteworthy because the group has just had a change of first violin. The role was taken over by Gina McCormack only a few months ago. She performed with finesse, technical perfection and her silvery tone shone through.
It was one of the most exciting evenings in Dornbirn Klassik in recent years."
Anna Mika, Kronenzeitung
“...The Brodskys take Zemlinsky’s jagged gestures in their stride, their grasp of the music’s shifting metres absolutely secure... The Brodskys turn inwards for the work’s ‘Romanza’, a wonderful reading, bringing the music into alignment with Berg and Bartok at their greatest...”
Rob Cowan, Gramophone, April 2015
“...The musical japes and textural sophistication of the Third bring out the best in the Brodsky’s playing – wry, playful, and rhythmically taut. And there’s plenty of suavity and emotional depth in its account of the more lyrical Fourth...”
Matthew Rye, The Strad, June 2015
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
“…Anyone who knows the Brodskys would have been surprised had their performance not been top drawer, penetrating the heart and soul of a work that, like so much of Tchaikovsky's music, has a strong sense of autobiography. The fantastic and deeply moving account of the work by this great group did all of these things… that music drew something very special from these peerless players: they were deep beneath the surface, right in the engine room of the soul of the music…”
Herald Scotland, 20th February 2014
Kings Place, ‘Chamber Classics Unwrapped’, January 2014
“… the fugue of Beethoven’s A minor quartet Opus 132 emerged heart-stoppingly beautiful…”
The Independent, 16th January 2014
Hampstead Arts Festival, London, October 2013
“…But the thing happening at the moment which is SO extraordinary is a cycle of the complete Zemlinsky string quartets given by the Brodsky Quartet… I was captivated. I had only ever heard this piece on disc – nobody seems to play it live – and I was unprepared for the dimension of its impact, fabulously done here by the Brodskys at their best. The finest playing I’ve encountered in a long time: fiercely focused, blazing with integrity, and brilliantly imagined…”
The Telegraph, 21st October 2013
"…the Brodsky Quartet reminded us the medium can be red in tooth and claw – and that the great works of Beethoven and Bartók defy familiarity …in Bartók’s snarling Fifth Quartet, wave upon wave of rhythmic energy slicing across the group. After exquisitely-rendered nocturnal fluttering in the Adagio, the players hit on the visceral dance groove of the Scherzo alla bulgarese, the quartet’s fiery heart.
…(in the Beethoven) a penetrating unity of vision brought the central Andante into remarkable focus, every phrase cherished and poised. They injected just the right degree of whirling madness into the breezy presto, with its pizzicati ricochets, and ended with a ferocious Allegro, overriding any sense of an engine running on empty."
Helen Wallace, BBC Music Magazine, December 2014
"...elegant restraint, contemporary without forcing the point, and fervent to an extent that all you want to do when the disc ends is play it again."
Norman Lebrecht CD of the Week, August 2010
"Performing the complete cycle of [Shostakovich's] 15 quartets over two days, the Brodsky Quartet displayed total certainty in the trajectory of the journey ... this supremely assured series of performances ... as gripping as they were unsettling."
Rowena Smith, The Guardian, April 2009
"...the collaboration, which began with the release of the album The Juliet Letters in 1993, has stood the test of time ... There was a distinct rapport to the performance that went beyond the obvious mutual respect between the two parties, and a sense of musical adventure was in the air..."
David Sinclair, The Times, April 2009
"The Brodsky Quartet is the no.1 interpreter of Shostakovich in the world today." Corriere della Sera, December 2008
"Some secrets are better kept than they should be. The excellent Brodsky Quartet's residency at Cadogan Hall, London."
Fiona Maddocks, Evening Standard, 30 October 2008
"Of Dvorak's Second String Quintet: ‘Apart from its supremely upholstered textures, and a massive, velvety depth of tone, the performance was outstanding for the group's multi-level command of the intimate chamber music of the piece and its symphonic dimensions, portrayed at their most grand and imposing."
Michael Tumelty, The Herald, 6 October 2008
"Throughout the night Rowland led with determination and flair supported by the intuitive playing of Ian Belton on second violin, the assured cello playing of Jacqueline Thomas and with Paul Cassidy as the linchpin; his dignified, heartfelt playing a revelation of the beauty of the viola."
Rosalind Appleby, The West Australian, 22 February 2008
"...what may well be the Brodsky Quartet's crowning recorded achievement." Julian Haylock, The Strad
CD: Shostakovich Quartets, Chandos
‘The Brodsky saves the best till last, getting under the emotional skin of no.15 with a truly awestruck humanity that is deeply compelling. In even the most apparently downcast of gestures, the players manage to find a glimmer of hope that creates the strange impression of smiling benevolently through streams of tears. Indeed, it sets the
seal on what may well be the
Brodsky Quartet’s crowning
Julian Haylock, The Strad, Jan 2017
CD: Shostakovich Quartets, Chandos
‘The performances as a whole achieve a rare degree of intensity’
‘Perhaps the most impressive aspect of these recordings lies in the huge range of dynamics and timbres that are employed to project the somewhat bewildering sequence of emotions that emanate from Shostakovich’s musical argument.’
5* awarded for performance
BBC Music Magazine, December 2016
Melbourne Recital Center (Katie Noonan Tour)
‘…There are some mercilessly tricky moments for the quartet, as each composer has clearly aimed to wring every ounce of technical virtuosity from this opportunity, but the Brodskys meet this test of their musical mettle with unflinching confidence.’
Maxim Boon, Limelight Magazine, April 2016
CD: BRAHMS: String Quartet, Op 51, No 1; Piano Quintet, Op 34
“… The Brodskys hold clarity and passion in fine balance in the C minor quartet, while in the thrilling F minor quintet, the Ukrainian pianist adds an effective bite to the often clamorous texture from the off.”
Sunday Times, April 2016
CD: Zemlinsky Complete String Quartets
“...the premiere recording, of a recently published String Quartet in E minor, composed in 1893... is played with commitment and elegance. As for the numbered quartets, I was impressed by the Brodskys’ forthright and uncompromising approach to the dark and desolate Fourth... Their version of the Third is also illuminating, presenting the first movement in a much more highly wrought Romantic manner than does other accounts...”
Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine, April 2015
CD: Brahms - Clarinet Quintet with Michael Collins and String Quartet No. 2
“...the Brodskys erase all possible strenuousness and opacity (always dangers in such richly contrapuntal writing) with supreme clarity, vigour and refinement. Finely recorded, this is outstanding even by Collins and the Brodsky’s standards...”
Bryce Morrison, Gramophone, May 2014
“…The Clarinet Quintet is beautifully paced, unhurried but flowing forward. The meditative slow movement is constantly charming. The last movement id a many-faceted delight...”
Tim Homfray, The Strad, August 2014
CD: New World Quartets
“…The famous four … constitute simply one of the best string quartet groupings in the world. They are justly acclaimed for their polish, sophistication and a mature refinement to which almost every group, in a music world stuffed with new string quartets, should aspire…”
Herald Scotland, 12th January 2014
"Shostakovich’s string quartets have long been a cornerstone of the Brodsky Quartet’s repertoire, but the Royal West of England Academy’s exhibition Shock and Awe, a reflection on conflict, provided an unusually potent setting… There was a visceral sense of Shostakovich’s tussling with moral and philosophical questions, and, in this artistic context, their contemporary dimension could not fail to add a sobering element to the performance. The Brodsky’s ability to communicate on so many levels - humanity and virtuosity all part of the essential integrity of their approach – promises to make this a memorable cycle."
Rian Evans, The Guardian, September 2014
"The Brodsky Quartet, now in its forty-first year as an ensemble, began this BBC Lunchtime Concert performance of Beethoven’s Opus 95 in the only way possible, on the front foot. The playing was immaculate; the four musicians thinking as one… Throughout, the musicians caught Beethoven’s changes of mood, the alternations between graceful and grave, and the vigorous finale was worked through to a coda that scurried off brilliantly."
Ben Hogwood, ClassicalSource.com, June 2013
"Throughout, the players gave unstintingly of their passion and energies, playing with a spirit so transformational you felt they were actually improving the world. Had it not been for dry concert conventions, they would surely have called a lock-in and played through the night."
Edward Bhesania, The Strad, October 2012
"...the Brodskys explore the expressive parameters and sonic potentialities of Ravel's glorious String Quartet to an unrivalled degree ... spellbinding and revelatory ... one of the string quartet discs of 2010."
Julian Haylock, The Strad, November 2010
"Sunday, the second and final day in the Brodsky Quartet's intensive two-day survey of Shostakovich's 15 string quartets, was, without exaggeration, a day and a night of awesome musical experience."
Michael Tumelty, The Herald, April 2009
"[Elvis] Costello hinted that he might be back soon with a rock band, but, while the Brodskys haven't yet mastered power chords and feedback, they can handle pretty well anything else. Their collective treatment of Elvis's Falklands War epic, Shipbuilding, was fraught with mixed emotions, moving through passages of doubt and discomfort before evoking enormous sadness."
Adam Sweeting, The Telegraph, April 2009
"The Brodskys' achingly beautiful performance reached deep into the heart..."
Rian Evans, Guardian, September 2006
"...the performance of Bartók’s String Quartet no. 1... an extremely closely knit and mature performance. The Brodsky Quartet played with their new, half-Dutch leader Daniel Rowland as if it had done so for centuries..."
Jochem Valkenburg, NRC Handelsblad, June 2008
"Before the intermission Bartók’s String Quartet no. 1 was fabulously performed by the Brodsky Quartet..."
Frits van der Waa, de Volkskrant, June 2008
"The appointment of the Brodsky Quartet as resident string quartet at the RSAMD for a three-year period is a coup for the academy. The cult string quartet are not only a group with a stellar international reputation. They are one of a handful of string quartets that have come to represent an elite in redefining the nature and function of a string quartet ensemble."
The Herald, October 2007
"It's warming to be immersed in the Brodsky Quartet's tender music-making... their close interaction has a ballet-like beauty. The focal point was Ravel's String Quartet – the Brodskys built a close, mystical atmosphere, breathing the Spanish summer night's shadows, while the last movement's syncopated games were charged with feverish frenzy."
Svenska Dagbladet, September 2007
"The Brodsky Quartet is not just a great group. It is a genuine phenomenon, as Glasgow concert-goers will find out soon when the quartet unfolds its staggering versatility across all three of Glasgow's concert halls with a musical repertoire that is mind-blowing in its diversity. But it struck home at the weekend that, even within its relatively orthodox "classical" quartet operation, there is something individual about the quartet. Through the weekend the players had saturation presence in Glasgow, beyond the gaze of the public through their education programme and a few other things, and in public with two concentrated concerts that seemed to define the essence of the Brodsky Quartet.
They are uncompromising. Who else would dare stage, far less pull off, a lunchtime programme that ranged from Mozart's teeth-grindingly gripping Adagio and Fugue to Beethoven's unremittingly concentrated C sharp minor quartet, opus 131? ... Interpretations revealed the Brodskys at their most volcanic in the tornado of Mozart's Fugue, and at a level of near-conspiratorial intimacy in a philosophical and conversational account of the Beethoven, where the collective intellectual acuity of the players attracted the concentration of the listener with magnetic irresistibility.
On Saturday night they catapulted challenges at the audience, not only with their terse, tough, taut and microscopically-detailed performance of Lutoslawski's huge and punishing 1964 string quartet, but equally, if light years away from Lutoslawski, in the scrunchingly dissonant passages of Purcell's Fantasias, immaculately played in a period style. The wonder of the weekend, however, was the Brodsky's gloriously open-hearted interpretation of Mendelssohn's Second String Quartet, a riveting performance that pulsed with warmth and left the word "masterpiece" stamped on every page of the music."
Michael Tumelty, The Herald, March 2009