Serenade for String Quintet, Op.3
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello
Nikolai Sokolov (1859–1922) was born in St. Petersburg and studied at the conservatory there under Rimsky-Korsakov. He became one of several composers, mostly students of Korsakov such as Glazunov and Borodin, who came to be known as the Belaiev Circle, named after the important Russian music publisher, M.P. Belaiev. These composers dedicated themselves to creating a “Russian School”, (i.e. Russian-sounding). Sokolov eventually became a professor at the Petersburg Conservatory where Alexander Tcherepnin and Dmitri Shostakovich were among his many students. He wrote music for the ballet and orchestra as well as chamber music, including three string quartets. Today, if he is known at all, it is for his contributions to a collection of short pieces for string quartet by the composers of the Belaiev Circle. The collection came to be known as Les Vendredis, It commemorated the chamber music concerts and banquets which took place most Friday evenings at the mansion of the publisher Belaiev. All of the pieces in the collection were specifically composed for those Friday evening concerts.
The Serenade was in fact dedicated to Belaiev, a keen amateur violist, and intended as a present. As in the famous B-La-F string quartet (a composite work by Rimsky-Korsakov, Liadov, Glazunov and Borodin), the Serenade uses the same three notes, which in the French rendering spell out Belaiev's name. The beautiful one movement work achieved considerable popularity and was also arranged by him later on in a version for 10 to 12 strings.