Brodsky Quartet

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Krysia Osostowicz – violin

Ian Belton – violin

Paul Cassidy – viola

Jacqueline Thomas – cello

KAREN TANAKAAt the Grave of Beethoven
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICHString Quartet No.4 in D major, Op.83
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVENString Quartet No.15 in A minor, Op.132

Third Time Lucky...

After two attempts to bring the Brodsky Quartet to Skipton in 2020 and 2021, both times thwarted by the pandemic, we're thrilled to be finally welcoming this internationally renowned ensemble as part of our season for 2023/2024.

Since forming in 1972, the Brodsky Quartet have performed over 3,000 concerts on the major stages of the world and have released more than 70 recordings. A natural curiosity and an insatiable desire to explore has propelled the group in a number of artistic directions and continues to ensure them not only a prominent presence on the international chamber music scene, but also a rich and varied musical existence. Their energy and craftsmanship have attracted numerous awards and accolades worldwide, while their ongoing educational work provides a vehicle to pass on experience and stay in touch with the next generation.

Having recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, the Brodsky Quartet have enjoyed a busy international performing schedule, and have extensively toured the major festivals and venues throughout Australasia, North and South America, Asia, South Africa and Europe, as well as in the UK, where the quartet is based. Over the years, the Brodsky Quartet have undertaken numerous performances of the complete cycles of quartets by Schubert, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Britten, Schoenberg, Zemlinsky, Webern and Bartok. It is, however, the complete Shostakovich cycle that has now become synonymous with their name: their 2012 London performance of the cycle resulted in their taking the prestigious title ‘Artistic Associate' at London's Kings Place – a residency which lasted ten years – and, in October 2016, they released their second recording of the cycle, this time live from the Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam.

To find out more about the quartet, see

Photo credit: Sarah Cresswell

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Third Time Lucky with the Brodsky Quartet

It was indeed ‘third time lucky’ for music lovers last month as the Brodsky Quartet finally made it to Skipton, after two previous concerts had been cancelled as a result of Covid. A packed hall and ecstatic applause made clear that it was truly worth the wait.

The programme was carefully planned to culminate in Beethoven’s Quartet in A minor, one of the ‘late quartets’ which are still astonishing today for their originality, inventiveness and emotional appeal. The Brodsky know this music intimately and it showed in every lovingly cherished phrase, above all in the hauntingly beautiful slow movement. The surrounding movements too were full of refined power and energy, with the uneasy final movement bringing the concert to a deeply satisfying conclusion.

In the first half the Brodsky played two short works inspired by Beethoven and written for the quartet, by Karen Tanaka and Henning Kraggerud. Despite the Brodsky’s compelling advocacy, neither work made a memorable impression on your reviewer. In contrast, the work which followed, the 4th quartet of Shostakovich – another composer who the Brodsky have championed – was a fascinating discovery. This was one of a number of works which Shostakovich wrote during Stalin’s second clamp-down on ‘modernist’ composers but only unveiled after the tyrant’s death. It contains reference to the Jewish ‘klezmer’ style, perhaps in tribute to the Jewish musicians who Shostakovich befriended. In the Brodsky’s hands it became a moving and defiant assertion of the human spirit in the face of oppression.

After such a fine concert an encore might seem almost superfluous, but the Brodsky’s choice of Rachmaninov’s ‘Vocalise’, in their own arrangement for string quartet, made a perfect ending to a wonderful evening.

Charles Dobson