Sergey Taneyev is sadly one of those composers who, despite a prominent position in the music scene during his lifetime, is not afforded his due credit in the modern musical canon. Himself a student of Tchaikovsky and subsequently a teacher of other great Russian composers such as Rachmaninov, Scriabin, and Glière, Taneyev's works are no less deserving of recognition. His compositions are filled with intricate counterpoint and polyphony; the two quartets heard here are quite reminiscent of Mozart in their transparency and unpretentiousness.
The Taneyev Quartet, heard here in a recording originally made in 1977-1978, does a masterful job of capturing the character of these two works. The recorded sound is quite natural, well-balanced, and beautifully unified. There are occasional crunched chords and rare slips of intonation, but the ensemble's many strengths completely override these minor blemishes. They present an admirable synthesis of a big, "Russian" sound and the graceful, charming character necessary to make listeners want to go out and buy the other volumes of these oft-overlooked contributions to the string quartet literature.