Taneyev Quartet

Myaskovsky: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 2

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The second volume of Northern Flowers' reissues of Russian Disc's series of recordings by the Taneyev Quartet of Nikolay Myaskovsky's 13 String Quartets intelligently and generously couples the composer's Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth works in the form. (Russian Disc had oddly and inexplicably coupled the Fourth with the First, the Fifth with the Third and the Sixth with the Second and the Tenth.) As in previous recordings, the Taneyev Quartet throws itself fully into the music. Though the tone is wiry, the sonorities lean, and the intonation occasionally shaky, the players are wholly committed. The music sounds like the missing link between Rachmaninov's late Romantic gloom and Shostakovich's early modernist despair. All three works here are in minor keys and four movements, and all three range tonally and emotionally from the fuliginous to the despondent. Though too dark for everyday listening except by the incurably depressed, anyone who admires Myaskovsky's symphonies will certainly want to hear his quartets, and anyone who enjoys Shostakovich's quartets may want to check out Myaskovsky's. Recorded in the mid-'80s, the stereo sound here is close, hard, and acerbic, but surprisingly realistic.

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