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Russian String Quartets

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Showing 1-24 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 14, 2012 10:46:35 PM PST
Well, outside of Shostakovich, what else is there to explore? I haven't been bowled over by Tchaikovsky or Borodin, but perhaps I haven't heard the best recordings. I know a lot of people like Schnittke; I haven't warmed to his string quartet works...yet. Which other generically 'Russian' string quartets are worth hearing?

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 11:48:18 PM PST
Thomas E. says:
Prokofiev's, especially the first. Taneyev, Arensky and Catoire are nice. Myaskovsky's 13 quartets are supposedly very good, but I haven't heard them myself. Weinberg/Vainberg should also be worth hearing - CPO has released six volumes of his quartets the last couple of years.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 12:12:59 AM PST
KenOC says:
I have some Tanayev quartets. He was definitely a fine composer in the contrapuntal tradition (and the author of a weighty tome on same) but somehow he can't hold my attention like Shostakovich or Borodin. Others? I'm looking too!

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 6:09:56 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2012 6:27:22 AM PST
scarecrow says:
Well Ivan Wyshnegradsky has microtonal string quartets,all recorded
and also I believe Nikolai Roslevitz, Lev Knipper. .(fought with the White Guards, and indirectly related to Anton Chekov by marriage) .Alexander Mosolov. (1900-1973). .,Alfred Schnittke. We all know. . .. .
other forgotten Russians you might search for are:
Anatoli Drosdow, Alexander Krein, Vladimir Deshevov, Samuil Feinberg, Juri Tjulin, Boris Schechter,(1900-1961) Gawriil Popow. . . Alexander Schenschin. . .Boris Alexandrow (1905),Moishe Vainberg. . . all have written countless piano works, but I don't know about string quartets, it wasn't a popular form in Russia. . as say the Symphony. . .

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 6:53:22 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:11:35 AM PST]

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 8:44:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2012 8:45:01 AM PST
WH says:
shfa, March recommended the Pacifica Quartet's new Shostakovich cycle. I have both volumes. Vol. I is Shostakovich 5-8 + Myaskovsky 13, while vol. II is Shostakovich 1-4 + Prokofiev 2. They are well on the way to becoming my favorite performance of the Shostakovich. It helps that they are superb sound quality (better than the classic performance of the Borodin and the Fitzwilliam).

Let me also strongly recommend the recent performance of the Prokofiev String Quartets by the Pavel Haas Quartet, Prokofiev : String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 / Sonata for Two Violins ~ Pavel Haas Quartet (Supraphon, 2010). It won a batch of awards (e.g. a finalist in Gramophone's "Best Chamber Work" for 2010). Here's a review:

I look forward to getting some recommendations of other Russian works here. String quartet is a favorite genre, and besides the Shostakovich and Prokofiev (and now the Myaskovsky), I don't have other Russian quartets in my collection.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 9:50:20 AM PST
Edgar Self says:
Super -- Schnittke.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 10:48:31 AM PST
And Gubaidulina. One of them (#4?) uses a rubber ball for a bow.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 11:40:19 AM PST
Thomas E. says:
Boris Tchaikovsky wrote six quartets, and they're collected on a release from Northern Flowers. Dark, flowing music. He has a pretty unique sound. Another Boris, Boris Tishchenko, also has six quartets on NF. His works sound a lot like Shostakovich to me! Gubaidulina's complete quartets can be found on a release by Supraphon (I just ordered it, in fact).

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2012 12:13:58 PM PST

I think that Tanayev is like Brahms in that his works sometimes take a while to soak in - like the liquid in a bread pudding. I have all of the Tanayev quartets, and I have only really scratched the surface. I've been meaning to get a better feel for the musical ideas in each. It's made more difficult by not knowing much about music except what my ears tell me.


I haven't heard Arensky or Catoire, but I would like to hear them.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2012 12:16:08 PM PST

The Pacifica cycle has been lauded so loudly that I will have to get it some time soon. It is on my short list. Although I didn't mention them, Prokofiev's string quartets are among my very favorites - better melodies than Shostakovich but less intensity.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2012 12:19:09 PM PST

I have Tischenko's string quartets. I have some trouble giving them a careful listen, but I think they may yield fruit with continued listening. It took me years to be able to listen to Shostakovich's string quartets.

So, I see that you and Vaughan are recommending Gubaidulina. I will see if I can audit them.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2012 1:06:08 PM PST
Thomas E. says:
Superhuge: there's a Brilliant box named "Treasures of Russian Chamber Music" that has works by:

- Arensky: Piano Trio no.1 - String Quartet in A minor (two cellos instead of two violins)
- Catoire: String Quintet - Piano Quartet in A minor - Violin Sonata "Poeme" - String Quartet
- Shostakovich: Piano Quintet - Piano Trio no.2
- Taneyev: Piano Quintet in G minor - String Quintet in G

It's a cheap way to hear some of what those composers have to offer. Played by The Amsterdam Chamber Music Society. I especially like Catoire's works in that set.

I haven't heard Gubaidulinas' quartets and can't vouch for their quality, but ordered them because I tend to like most of her music.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 1:18:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2012 1:21:00 PM PST
I've heard Gubaidulina played by the Arditti Quartet, on CD and in concert. Wish they had a complete set.

Thomas, are those rubber balls on the cover of the Supraphon CD? I'd like to get your opinion of that release, whenever you have one to share.

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 2:47:34 PM PST
John Spinks says:
All of this has got me over on Naxos Music Library to hear Taneyev's No. 1 & 4 -- Taneyev Quartet on Northern Flowers.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2012 2:58:28 PM PST
Thomas E. says:
Vaughan Otter: I'll try to remember to write up something when the album gets here in a week or two. And I'll get back to you about the balls.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012 3:04:37 AM PST
MacDoom says:
Don't forget Grechaninov! Not a million miles away from Taneyev, but a bit more lyrical to my ears. The Utrecht String Quartet recorded them all, I believe, in great sound.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012 8:22:42 AM PST

It's funny you should mention Grachaninov. I just ordered two volumes of his string quartets on MD&G - the ones played by the Utrecht SQ. I also ordered Taneyev's string trios. I have all of the string quartets and am re-listening to them now. Musically, I placed Taneyev with Brahms in terms of musical structure. I don't know how realistic that is, but I filed Taneyev away as someone whose string quartets have something to offer, but I need to give them several listenings to parse the language. I brought them with me to work today to load them onto my computer and then onto my iPhone. I intend to listen to them this weekend while making borscht (Ukrainian style). Our beets are ready, so I want to use them before the gophers get them. Taneyev, borscht, and black bread - sounds like a party, eh? If only my imperial stout were ready. It has to wait until March to bottle.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012 8:51:43 AM PST
MacDoom says:
Interesting how Taneyev seems to conjure up Brahms - I don't remember the association in my head when I first listened to them a few years ago. High time for a refresher. I have that Northern Flowers series, which offers most if not all of the chamber music in what are maybe a bit elderly sounding recordings on the whole, but I found them enjoyable all the same; the recording never became an issue. The sound of the Grechaninovs by the Utrecht String Quartet is markedly better, though.

Enjoy them!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012 2:27:39 PM PST

I definitely need to hear the Arensky and Catoire quartets. I listened to Gubaidulina's 'Seven Words' for strings and bayan, and I did find some things interesting in it, but I have trouble listening to most modern music for very long. I will have to listen to it several times. I didn't find the string quartets on NML. I may join spotify soon.

Posted on Nov 17, 2012 1:50:00 AM PST
MacDoom says:
Arensky's second string quartet is a very special one, in that it's written for a quartet that has two cellos instead of two violins. I know of no other example! Unfortunately, it's not always recorded the way it was written (transcribed for 'normal' string quartet, it's op. 35a instead of op. 35). Buyer beware!

Posted on Nov 17, 2012 9:21:00 PM PST
mancheeros says:
Alexander Mosolov - String Quartet No. 1 (1926)

Mosolov was a rising star of the Russian avant-garde before Stalin took over and destroyed all that was inventive.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 8:54:19 AM PST
Edgar Self says:
Like iron foundries? (re Mossolov, Stalin & Co.)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 10:57:31 AM PST
KenOC says:
Yeah, wasn't Mosolov's String Quartet an arrangement of his Sonata for Anvils and Iron Hoop?
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  11
Total posts:  24
Initial post:  Nov 14, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 18, 2012

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