S022575/S022576 Reviews

S022575 / S022576 Tchaikovsky Complete String Qurtets

Fanfare / May/June 1997 / by John Bauman

TCHAIKOVSKY: String Quartets: No. 1 in D, op. 11; No. 2 in F, op. 22. Glinka String Quartet
(Alexander Steinberg, violin; Oxana Lisenko, violin; Boris Burdenko, viola; Konstantin Fedorov, cello).
SONORA S022575CD [DDD]; 69:19.

TCHAIKOVSKY: String Quartets: No. 3 in E flat Minor, op. 30; in B flat.
Glinka String Quartet. SONORA S022576CD [DDD]; 50:45.

This is a rather unusual set in that it includes the seldom recorded first movement of an early quartet written--but not completed--in 1865. At 13:03 this is one of Tchaikovsky's longer quartet movements. You may fear that it is diffuse. Not really, for it is quite an attractive and polished work. It begins and ends Adagio misterioso with an intervening Allegro con mote. Some of the themes almost sound as though they were influenced by Borodin. The only current alternative, according to Schwann, is an Audiophile Classics two-disc set by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic String Quartet that is mediocre at best. (I understand that the Sony set by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Quartet also includes it, though Schwann does not list it.) The playing by the Glinka Quartet is certainly more idiomatic. This ensemble, based in the Ukrainian city of Odessa is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

The three more familiar quartets are often underrated. Despite an antipathy to the last two of Tchaikovsky's symphonies, I love his chamber music which, in its intimacy, seems to be more congenial to the composer. AII three are relatively early works written in 1871. 1874, and 1876. The First Quartet is certainly the best known, with its often excerpted second movement. The other two are well written with plenty of Slavic soul.

The Glinka Quartet plays these quartets in a ruminative, introspective manner, and with tonal richness that is quite fetching.
Decent notes and natural sound round out this release...

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