If you already know his broadly lyrical, brilliantly argued, and grandly epic symphonies; if your already know his brightly colored, warmly sentimental, and remarkably rhythmic ballets; and if you already know his richly textured, subtly shaded, and wildly virtuosic piano sonatas, the chamber music of the great Russian fin de siècle composer Alexander Glazunov is definitely the next place to go. This 2005 Naxos recording by the Fine Arts Quartet of his early Five Novelettes for string quartet and his masterful String Quintet might be the place to start. The Fine Arts Quartet's light-toned but sweet-tempered and strong-boned performance of the rarely recorded Novelettes catches all the nationalist styles of the suite from the Spanish through the Oriental to the Hungarian. Joined by ace cellist Nathaniel Rosen, the Fine Arts Quartet's powerfully energetic and tenderly poetic performance of the relatively frequently recorded quintet can hold its own with earlier efforts by the elegantly expressive Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Ensemble and the soulfully virtuosic Shostakovich Quartet. Anyone who knows and loves Glazunov and doesn't know these works should hear this disc. And anyone who doesn't yet know Glazunov -- and hence doesn't yet love Glazunov -- could do worse than to start with this disc. Recorded in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York by producer, engineer, and editor Adam Abeshouse, Naxos' sound is superbly balanced and extraordinarily immediate.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Novelettes (5) for string quartet, Op. 15|
|String Quintet for 2 violins, viola & 2 cellos in A major, Op. 39|