Sydney Morning Herald, March 8, 1993

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Costello's classic collaboration

Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet / The Juliet Letters

Lynden Barber

Elvis Costello's new album, a collaboration with Britain's classical Brodsky Quartet, is a brave and startling work that may alienate some of his old fans while deserving to attract legions of newcomers. The string quartet has been an occasional part of pop ever since The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" (one shudders at the news that even Duran Duran have announced their intention to tour with one). But with the exception of The Kronos Quartet's unlikely cover of Hendrix's "Purple Haze," this particular pop-classical hybrid has been from one side of the fence.

The Costello-Brodsky album is unusual in being a full-blown collaboration between the worlds of rock and "serious" music. The story goes that after discovering they'd been attending each other's concerts, Costello and the quartet members met and got along so well they decided to write and record an album in tandem. They took as their inspiration a newspaper story about a Verona professor who, styling himself after Romeo Montague, wrote a series of letters addressed to Juliet Capulet. Quartet members contributed to both lyrics and music. Not only is the writing consistently strong and varied from typical Costello acidity to autumnal melancholy and theatrical, Brecht Weill-inspired pieces but the beautifully wrought string settings bring out the best in Costello's singing. The first great album of '93.


Sydney Morning Herald, The Guide, March 8, 1993

Lynden Barber reviews The Juliet Letters.


1993-03-08 Sydney Morning Herald, The Guide page 6S.jpg
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