Taneyev Quartet

Sergey Taneyev: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 3

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For aficionados of Russian chamber music of the late imperial age, the re-release of the only known recorded cycle of the string quartets of Sergey Taneyev will be cause for celebration. Of course, even in the exceedingly rarified repertoire of Russian chamber music of the late imperial age, Taneyev's quartets are known only to a handful of cognoscenti. To put them in context, Taneyev's nine quartets are more academic and less inspired than Borodin's two, more intellectual and less lyrical than Tchaikovsky's three, and more austere and less ingratiating than Glazunov's seven. The pair of quartets on this disc, the two-movement D minor from 1886 with its readily apparent formal structure, and the four-movement C major from 1883 with its Mozartian clarity of line and texture, are both first-rate examples of the composer's achievement, and the group, which takes the composer's name as its own, gives its all to the performances. While the Taneyev Quartet's playing may seem edgy and rough-hewn compared to more polished Western ensembles, its hard-driven rhythms and slightly sweet tone suit the music and the thoroughly committed interpretations make as persuasive a case for the music as is imaginable. Northern Flower's stereo sound is dry, close, and apparently unremastered.

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