After its first two recordings, devoted to Schubert then Beethoven, highly praised and recommended by the critics (both ffff in Télérama, recommended by The Strad…), this eclectic, innovative quartet is now celebrating its tenth anniversary by tackling the string quintets of Mozart and Brahms. These two scores, representative of the culmination of a career in the case of Brahms and, for Mozart, the end of a life, are sustained by vigorous inspiration and frothing energy.
The Brodsky Quartet presents this second volume in its exploration of Brahms’s complete string quartets. The first, which also featured the Clarinet Quintet with Michael Collins, received numerous enthusiastic reviews, The Guardian praising the players for their ‘immaculate’ performance. The String Quartet, Op. 51 No. 1, featured here, was written alongside its contrasting companion, Op. 51 No. 2. Both were finally published in 1873 after having been held back for years by a typically self-doubting Brahms, until he had brought them to his own high standards of perfection.
Brahms’s two sonatas for clarinet and piano, Op 120, composed in 1894, were followed only by the four Serious Songs and a set of organ chorale preludes (some of which may have been written at earlier times). His farewell to chamber music was also his farewell gift to the clarinet. The two works recorded here were preceded by the Clarinet Trio in A minor (Op 114) and the great Clarinet Quintet in B minor (Op 115), and all four masterpieces were inspired by the playing of Richard Mühlfeld, principal clarinettist of the Meiningen Orchestra.