The Brodsky Quartet – Moodswings – Songs for vocalist and string quartet by RICHARD RODNEY BENNETT, SJON, TRIER etc. – sung by Elvis Costello, Bjork, Errollyn Wallen, Sting etc. – Brodsky Records

by | Aug 19, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

The Brodsky Quartet – Moodswings – Songs for vocalist and
sung by Elvis Costello, Errollyn Wallen, Björk, Sting etc. – Brodsky
Records BRD3501, 56:00, * 1/2 (for hardcore Brodsky fans only):

I really wanted to like this record, honest.  I have a number of
Brodsky Quartet CD’s and have always enjoyed most of their quirky
approach to string quartet music, though I don’t usually go for that
kind of thing.  I really like Elvis Costello and most of the other
vocalists that are on this disc, including Sting and Bjork. It was one
of those things that should have worked, looking at the list of
characters on the bill.  I even signed up for this one, when John
Sunier asked me what I wanted to give a go for my first review, I asked
for this one.

But as William Shatner says, “I just can’t get behind that’. This
doesn’t mean that it won’t be your cup of tea.  I just know I’ll
hear this disc at CES next year and it will be playing in every
room.  I could certainly see it as a bizarre art-film soundtrack
on the Sunrise channel at about 4am.  It is kind of cool in a
haunting way.

This isn’t to say that the disc isn’t beautifully recorded.  I
almost wish I could turn off the voice track on this, because the
Brodsky Quartet turns in their usual brilliant playing. Please bear
with me, as I would pretty much reach for anything but string quartet
music, so am not well versed in what this stuff is supposed to sound
like.  What I have always enjoyed about the Brodsky Quartet has
been the complexity of their playing.

The recording really captures the dynamic of a great string quartet in
a medium sized hall.  When I gave this a spin on my larger system
and SET amplifiers, it just came alive in the room. 
Unfortunately, it just couldn’t hold my interest for long enough to
audition the whole disc in one sitting.  ( I could never listen to
Pink Floyd’s The Wall in one sitting either, so that doesn’t take away
anything from the BQ’s genius)

Jerry Seinfeld was talking at a Porsche car event about his concept of
“density of thought” and how it related to standup comedy.  I
believe this applies to just about any type of creative product and is
what I have always liked about the Brodsky Quartet.  Green Day
does not have much density of thought, but the Brodsky Quartet has it
in spades.

While the two Elvis Costello tracks are fun in a wacky sort of way, the
most listenable track for me was “Shallow Footsteps”, with vocals by
Sophie Grimmer.  This was the track where the vocals really seemed
to blend with what the BQ was doing instrumentally.

In the press release that accompanied the disk, it mentions that some
of the songs on this disc are part of a three and a half year period in
which the BQ did a large body of educational work getting teenagers
involved with music.  They created a body of almost 100 songs
together, of which six are on this CD.  

Just to make sure it wasn’t just me, I played parts of this disc to a
number of friends and it didn’t fare any better.  I guess
Moodswings is a pretty appropriate title for this one. Because I really
like the Brodsky Quartet, I won’t tell you not to buy this, you just
have to promise not to be mad at me if you don’t like it!!  Enter
at your own risk.

– Jeff Dorgay