Suite for String Quartet, Op.35
"The Suite for String Quartet was completed in 1891.The opening movement, Introduction and Fugue, begins with a lovely Andante which is reflective without being sad. Most of the rest of the movement is taken up by a fugue which is based on the same theme as that introduced in the Andante. Next comes a brilliant Scherzo, allegro. The use of quintuplets and trills passed from voice to voice creates an original and exciting effect. This is followed by an Orientale, Andante. The viola, a prescient choice, is given the haunting main theme to a strumming accompaniment. Both this melody and its rhythm are highly effective. The fourth movement is a theme and set of five variations: Tranquillo, Mistico, Scherzo, Pensieroso and Alla Polacca. The theme is Russian and appealing The second variation, Mistico, has a soft, high, muted tremolo accompaniment in the violins which serves to create a strong air of mystery. A lively and bright Scherzo serves as a palette cleanser while the final variation is a toe-tapping and rollicking ride. For his finale, Glazunov surprisingly chooses a Valse. It begins slowly enough but then becomes quite lively."—–Moise Shevitovsky writing in the Chamber Music Journal.
Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936) was born in St. Petersburg, the son of a wealthy book publisher. He began studying piano at the age of nine and started composing not long after. It was Mili Balakirev (founder of the Russian nationalist group “The Mighty Five”) who brought Glazunov to the attention of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. This was in 1879. Korsakov, who immediately recognized the boy’s talent, took him on as a private student. Glazunov’s progress was so fast that within two years, Korsakov considered Glazunov more of a junior colleague than a student. Between 1895 and 1914, Glazunov was widely regarded, both inside and out, as Russia’s greatest living composer. His works include symphonies, ballets, operas and seven string quartets in addition to various instrumental sonatas.
An added bonus of the excellent work is that, although it was intended to be played as a whole, any one of its movements can be used as an encore.