The three great chamber works, the String Quartet, Piano Quintet, and Violin Sonata, were among the very last works that Elgar wrote, composed during an intensive and productive period in 1918 and 1919 whilst living at Brinkwells in Sussex, and under the twin shadows of the horrors of the Great War and the terminal illness of his wife, Alice.
The String Quartet was dedicated to the original Brodsky Quartet (the name subsequently taken by the current group when they arrived as students at the Royal Northern College of Music) and was championed by this new Brodsky Quartet from the off, sitting alongside Delius’s Quartet on their debut recording (1984). It has remained a cornerstone of their repertoire ever since.
The Brodsky Quartet took the opportunity of the centenary year of both works to perform the String Quartet alongside the Piano Quintet with their frequent co-performer Martin Roscoe, and this recording is a result of that commemoration.
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The Classical Music Collector
"Elgar, the enthusiastic cryptogrammatist, was himself an enigma. For those who know him only by his genial Serenade, or the Enigma Variations, his range of compositional activities may come as a surprise. Not only did he write two of the finest British Symphonies, religiously unorthodox oratorios like the Dream of Gerontius and the Kingdom, two magnificent Concertos, cantatas on secular subjects, but also chamber music. It is a curious feature of Elgar’s oeuvre that, apart from the Symphonies, he wrote only one work in each genre, and this new CD from Chandos contains two of his three major ventures in chamber music, omitting only his Violin Sonata—all three were written between 1918 and 1919 during Elgar’s ‘mature period’, just before the Cello Concerto. As one might expect, the String Quartet and Piano Quintet are sizeable works, and they share with the Concerto a broad, melancholy expressivity that is capable both of sensitive nostalgic yearning, and an incisive agitation. Of the two the Piano Quintet is the grander, an ambitious and exploratory work that combines Brahmsian richness with a distinctly English sensibility. Both pieces are among Elgar’s crowning achievements and deserve to be better known." - Chris Dench
"Performances of conspicuous insight, pedigree and power. In the mighty Piano Quintet the Brodskys generate a consistently stimulating rapport with the admirable Martin Roscoe. Theirs is a marvellously cogent conception, ideally paced and splendidly integrated, possessing a dedication, sweep and ardour that betoken a very real identification with this repertoire."
"The quartet was written for the original Brodsky players, and their namesakes deliver fiercely committed accounts, with Roscoe shining brightly in the quintet."