Memorable performances from Costello and the Brodsky Quartet
The Brodsky Quartet QEH, London
Friday 30 June 1995
The atmosphere was both relaxed and electric. When, for example, did you last enter the QEH to the sound of canned music? Not Costello's, I hasten to add, but a pre-concert shot of John Lee Hooker and Van Morrison, musical canapes to go with the drinks that virtually everyone brought into the hall. There were celebrities everywhere, including the septuagenarian Moondog, who crossed the front aisle like some hallowed soothsayer. Costello and the Brodskys entered together and launched into their opening selections without ceremony. The concert's first half was made up entirely of arrangements for voice and string quartet, with Michael Thomas's "Skeleton" being one of the most outstanding - a haunting, tender-hearted piece, with pertinent references to the slow movement of Sibelius's Violin Concerto.
Jacqueline Thomas was responsible for a harmonically outreaching version of Jerome Kern's 1914 ballad "They'll Never Believe Me" and, of course, Costello's own song-cycle-cum-CD-album The Juliet Letters was healthily represented. The mix worked wonderfully well: Costello, a people's poet par excellence, whose expressive voice and unaffected stage manner spell absolute sincerity, was supported by consistently inspired string playing.
The second half saw Diego Masson direct a larger group made up of the Brodskys plus two horns, two clarinets, trumpet, flute and clarinet. Repertoire included Michael McGlynn's arrangement of Costello's early song "New Lace Sleeves", Bill Frisell's characteristically fresh paint-job on "Upon a Veil of Midnight Blue" (originally composed for Charles Brown) and Clive Langer's musically eventful "Shipbuilding". Costello was generous with his praise for all on stage - and decisive about leaving on time. It had been a rewarding but exhausting experience, later-starting and longer- lasting than most SBC classical concerts. It was also tremendously stimulating, with subject matter that ranged from humorous social commentary to tender reflection ("Almost blue, doing things we used to do...").
As to defining the event, I'd be inclined to think more in terms of a "shared path" than the woefully inadequate "cross-over" epithet. This was quality stuff, and as significant for the development of music now as anything we're likely to hear from the hard-line avant-garde.
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake online report claiming artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 4 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
- 5 The inventor of the Facebook 'like' button says he never made a 'dislike' button because he feared the 'unfortunate consequences'
Doctor Who, Flatline - review: Clara isn’t half bad as the Time Lord
Downton Abbey review series 5, episode 5: Period drama falls disappointingly flat
Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' on Antiques Roadshow by Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
Fury, film review: Brad Pitt is intriguing as unsympathetic war hero
Star Wars Episode 7 has almost finished filming
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
Lord Freud hangs on as MPs of all parties 'call for his head' over disability comments