Emma Johnson and the Brodsky Quartet

MICHAEL DRAKE John Innes Centre, Norwich


> John Innes Centre, Norwich

Clarinettist Emma Johnson is remarkable for her consistency – always the beautiful tone, breath control and superb phrasing.

Her playing was all in this vein, starting with Weber Clarinet Quintet in B flat.

Sparkling in dress, sparkling in performance, she was in charge but the Brodsky Quartet were always alive to what she asked in the opening Allegro with the aria in the following Adagio emotionally draining as the works' tunes bounded athletically in the unequal conversation.

There was much more musical dialogue in Brahms' Quintet in

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B minor in a weaving opening movement, then with quietly singing clarinet over hushed legato strings as strongly-stated wind interjections broke the calmer moments. Brahms' compositional 'swan song' was for his own enjoyment, but such was its performance that the enjoyment through music making of the highest calibre was taken up by artistes and audience alike.

Before this, Brodsky opened with the Quartet No 11 by Shostakovich – seven short movements with the contrast of the dark, almost menacing Elegy and the subtlety of the humoresque taking the music to another plane and all played in such relaxed style and with impeccable balance.

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