Concert 5 - Wednesday 10 February 2016 Print



Borodin   Scherzo in D major 
Shostakovich String Quartet No.2 in A major, Op.68 
Beethoven  String Quartet in C# minor, Op.131

"What is so striking about the playing of the Brodsky Quartet is their brimming love for the music."



"The Brodsky's ability to communicate

on so many levels – humanity and virtuosity

all part of the essential integrity of their approach" GUARDIAN





Since its formation in 1972, the Brodsky String Quartet has been at the very forefront of the international chamber music scene. Starting life in Middlesbrough, they were the first ever string quartet to arrive ready-formed at the Royal Northern College of Music, changing their name to Brodsky after the Russian violinist who was such an inspiration to musical life in Manchester in the early twentieth century.

The Brodsky Quartet will now play Beethoven's String Quartet in C# minor, Op.131, instead of Beethoven's Rasumovsky Quartet, Op.59/2. The first half is Russian: a furious scherzo from Borodin with a lyrical central section is followed by Shostakovich's second quartet of 1944 with its song-like slow movement, waltz-inspired scherzo and variation form finale. In the second half we are treated to Beethoven's C# minor quartet, acknowledged to be one of the greatest ever composed.


Concert review



A return visit worth waiting for at the Ilkley Concert Club


If the return of the Brodsky Quartet to play again for Ilkley Concert Club after 18 years was in itself a matter for celebration, the sparkling performance heard by a packed King's Hall on Wednesday was certainly an occasion for breaking out the champagne!



With their first piece the quartet did just that. The scherzo that Borodin wrote, incredibly, for a group of amateur string players in 1890s St Petersburg, was given a fizzing performance without sacrificing any of the lyricism of the viola melody in the trio section. This unfamiliar work – 'extraordinary champagne music' in violist Paul Cassidy's words – made an entrancing start to the concert.



The performance of the Shostakovich second quartet that followed was every bit as exciting, indeed I sat mesmerised by the Brodskys' playing. The first violin, Daniel Rowland, was completely on top of the virtuoso demands of the first two movements, matched fully by the other players. Indeed the restrained chords of his fellows only made the anguished lament of the second movement more effective. The spectral waltz of the third movement became almost a tarantella before the theme and variations of the fourth brought the quartet to an emphatic conclusion.



It is not possible for the Beethoven Op. 131 quartet to be an anticlimax and here it received a well-balanced and characterful performance. The playing was less dramatic perhaps but wonderfully integrated between the parts, with both the sadness of the first movement and the childish fun of the fifth given their due weight. The variety of tone was splendidly achieved with the rapt pianissimos particularly magical.



The Brodskys are well known for playing standing with the cello on a raised platform and this, with the partially-dimmed lighting, made a striking picture. But the quartet is not one for empty gestures and the players, while retaining their individuality, place all their artistry and showmanship at the service of the music. In the end this is what made this concert such a magnificent experience.





The following recordings were recommended in the Concert Programme




I have been unable to find a current recording of the Scherzo in D, but there are still some copies available via the internet of a budget price ASV disc – CD QS 6229. The Dante Quartet play short pieces by various Russian composers, including the Borodin.




An excellent full price Hyperion CD (CDA 67987), has the String Quartet No.2 and the Piano Quintet performed by the Takács Quartet and Marc-André Hamelin (piano).
Alternatively, if you would like to sample the Brodsky Quartet's work from earlier in their career (1989), a complete set of the Shostakovich Quartets is available on Teldec 2564 60867-2 (6 CDs for the price of 1 full price disc).




I have always admired the Quartetto Italiano's approach to the late Beethoven Quartets, and their recording of Op. 131 and Op. 132 is available on a budget price 2 CD set from Decca 454 712 2. The analogue recordings have been re-mastered well and the quality is very good. An excellent alternative is to buy the whole set of Beethoven Quartets performed by the Tokyo String Quartet on RCA/Sony 886919 75782 (9 CDs for the price of 1 full price disc). The digital recording quality is very fine, and the performances are superb.


Raymond Waud.


Club Notes for this Concert



Bob Ryan our Honorary Treasurer has told the Committee that this Season will be his last in this role. Having become Treasurer in 2003 he will have served Ilkley Concert Club for some 13 years. The influence of a good Treasurer in an organisation like ours is invaluable. Advising the Committee on the path between excessive prudence, expenditure that the Club needs for its development and rash extravagance, needs a clear understanding of the Club's objectives and long term aims.

At the same time the Treasurer must maintain the absolute confidence of Club's Committee and of course the Charity Commissioners. Bob has steered this path with consummate skill, goodwill and patience and I trust that all our Members will join with the Committee in giving him our grateful thanks for his long and distinguished service.

We have to find a replacement to pick up the reins for the 2016-17 Season. Do we have a Member who has accountancy experience and who would enjoy filling this important role on the Committee? You will be helping to run one of the most successful concert-promoting Clubs & Societies in Britain. It is an opportunity to ensure this success continues into the foreseeable future. Do please contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by phone 01953 431004.



Ilkley Concert Club wants to thanks all the Businesses who advertise in our Concert Programmes. Many of them have supported us for a number of years, helping to pay for the production of our excellent programmes. Each advertiser provides a local service of the highest quality and in turn, I hope that we will all take every opportunity to support them by shopping locally, whenever possible.



The King's Hall staff have asked me recently about a few people have started to take drinks from the bar into the concert. Apparently it is up to each event promoter to tell the King's Hall if they want to allow drinks in the auditorium during a performance. The Committee have just unanimously agreed that this is not acceptable for Ilkley Concert Club – simply because we have such a crowded hall, and it can be a distraction for other people in the audience. The exception of course is if you need to bring a bottle of water to control a cough – you can also pick up a plastic cup of tap water at the bar if needed.