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Brodsky Quartet, classical review

Kings Place, London

After five years of slog, Kings Place can fairly claim to have put itself on the map vis a vis the other venues with which it’s in competition.

And if it has a USP, it’s chamber music: duos, trios, quartets, and small ensembles, with the London Chamber Music Society taking up residence, and the hall’s own Chamber Studio providing a steady stream of master-classes.

This year its ‘unwrapped’ theme is chamber music, based on an online vote organised with BBC Music Magazine to find the fifty ‘most loved’ works in the chamber repertoire. And if that recipe sounds cheesy, the first results, performed by the Brodsky Quartet, were anything but.

Purcell’s Fantasias were written to be played by consorts of viols, but the Brodskys were equal to the challenge, finding a fair approximation to the bleached and vibrato-free viol sound for Fantasias 4 and 5. They followed those with an exquisite performance of Preghiera, a new work by the Norwegian composer Henning Kragerrud in which the wrenching expressiveness of Central European Jewish music was harnessed to an Arvo Part sound-world. And if their account of Bartok’s fourth quartet was muscle-bound and muddy, the fugue of Beethoven’s A minor quartet Opus 132 emerged heart-stoppingly beautiful.