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Cat. No. CHAN 9871(2) H Price: £18 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 9871 - Tchaikovsky: Complete String Quartets
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Available From: 19 October 2000
While Tchaikovsky’s three full-scale string quartets span a short, if fruitful, period of his creative life, the other two works on this disc significantly extend the compositional time-span. The early quartet movement helped to give the twenty-five-year-old student at the St Petersburg Conservatory the confident knowledge that there was ‘no other road for me now but music’; while the Souvenir de Florence dates from 1890, three years before his untimely death.

Tchaikovsky’s First String Quartet, completed in 1871, was to be the first Russian string quartet of note. The second movement, Andante cantabile, which became the smash hit of Tchaikovsky’s chamber music, incorporates a Ukraine folksong. The other movements evoke the spirit of Viennese classicism. His Second String Quartet was completed in 1874 and Tchaikovsky gave it pride of place among his compositions, along with Eugene Onegin and the Fourth Symphony. Unlike the First, it is full of Tchaikovsky’s fulsomeness of heart-on-sleeve emotionalism. Again, the Second Quartet has a different but utterly inspired second movement. His Third and last quartet was a memorial to the recently deceased violinist Ferdinand Laub. The second movement balances the formality of a rhythmic funeral march and an unearthly string transcription of orthodox chanting. Elsewhere in the quartet there is restrained commemoration of Laub’s skills

The Souvenir de Florence was published in June 1892. It was given its title because the main theme of the slow movement had occurred to him in Italy. Unduly neglected, it has a nostalgic lyricism behind which one can begin to sense the anguish of the last symphony, the Pathétique.
Reviews

…this is wonderful playing, full of wry wit and individuality, profound, unsentimental and richly rewarding
The Strad

The Borodins utter ease in this music is astonishing. They know instinctively how to let every phrase breathe, and how to let Tchaikovskys lyricism take wing, while their tonal refinement seems to command an infinite variety of colour.
The Guardian

 

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