The Brodsky Quartet and Michael Collins
FRANK CLIFF St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)
St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)
Any change in the personnel of an established string quartet tends to be a fairly traumatic experience. Whether permanent or not I cannot say, but at last night's concert the Brodsky Quartet had a different leader, Priya Mitchell. There was a whiff of tension in the air though for most of the time it didn't affect the performance to any appreciable degree.
Though noted for an adventurous approach to a wide range of repertoire, the Brodsky's programme was built around two of the most popular works in the chamber music repertoire: Borodin's Second Quartet, and the Mozart Clarinet Quintet.
They began, however, with the not so well-known: Frank Bridge's Three Idylls. It is a fairly early work that shows the composer's individual voice and mastery of the medium long before the complexity of his later works. It was beautifully played, especially the first movement with its haunting viola solo.
The popularity of Borodin's Second Quartet may derive in part from that famous tune, but that doesn't detract from the work's stature. Last night the notturno in fact was very fine, played without too much sentimentality and Brodsky seemed thoroughly at home with this music.
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Michael Collins is a superb interpreter of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet. Not only does he produce the most beautiful sound, but his performance is always characterful and last night's was no exception, particularly in the final variations. The larghetto is beautifully done, the hushed return of the theme magical. Yet elsewhere things were sometimes not quite right. The ensemble was sometimes less than perfect and Priya Mitchell's playing perhaps too flamboyant for Mozart. A little disappointing but still very enjoyable.