Carpe Diem String Quartet

Taneyev: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 3

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Sergei Taneyev was a student of Tchaikovsky who took off from what might be called the proto-neo-classic side of the latter's work, the side that produced the Serenade for strings, Op. 48. Taneyev's music was frequently programmed in the Soviet Union, where his conservative style may have appealed to official tastemakers. But really he had a style of his own, and it is good that his music is being rediscovered in the West. This release is part of a series devoted to Taneyev by the Carpe Diem String Quartet, a group better known for contemporary and crossover music. The musicians are sympathetic interpreters of Taneyev, however, and really anyone interested in his music could well start with this album. The numbering of Taneyev's quartets is deceptive; the seventh, eighth, and ninth are early works that preceded the official six (there are also two unfinished quartets, one early and one late). The String Quartet No. 7 in E flat major that opens the disc is modeled on Haydn and Mozart, but has weighty central movements that break the pattern. The String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 13, was completed in 1903. It lies about halfway between Tchaikovsky and Brahms, and it leans toward the latter in the expertise and balance of its large-scale structures. Taneyev has to be counted among the Russian composers who leaned toward the West, but the way he can fit an interlude of Russian melody into a larger sonata form is ingenious on the extreme. With strong acoustics from a studio in, of all places, Boise, Idaho, this can be recommended both to listeners following the series and those just looking for a taste of Taneyev.

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