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String Quartet No.2 in C Major, Op.28
Alexander Taneyev (1850-1918) was a distant cousin and not, as is sometimes claimed, the uncle of Sergei. He inherited an enthusiasm for music from his parents, but as a member of the Russian upper class, was dissuaded from pursuing a career as a professional musician. After studying at university, he entered the Russian civil service, eventually succeeding his father as Director of the Imperial Chancellery. However, Taneyev also pursued musical studies both in Germany and later in Petersburg where he became a student of Rimsky Korsakov. Taneyev's situation was in some ways rather like that of Alexander Borodin, a Professor of Chemistry. Both were fine composers whose main occupation was not that of musician. However, whereas Borodin might easily slip away from his test tubes in the laboratory to a nearby room to note down some theme which suddenly occurred to him, Taneyev, as a bureaucrat, was unable to just get up and leave his desk. It was rumored, nonetheless, that he kept a score that he was working on hidden beneath official documents so that he might pen a few notes between appointments. Judging from his output——two operas, three symphonies, several pieces for orchestra, numerous choral works, and a considerable amount of chamber music——his appointment schedule could not have been too heavy. Taneyev wrote 3 String Quartets. They were all composed between 1898-1900.
String Quartet. No.2 begins somewhat untraditionally with a relaxed and genial movement, Moderato assai, which could almost be styled a romantic serenade. Next comes a stunning Intermezzo which is subtitled Valse Melancolique. And in fact, the first part is a very moody waltz sounding of impending danger rather than sadness. The middle section is gay waltz in the tradition of Borodin and the young Glazunov. The third movement, Minuetto, is indeed a minuet but updated and filtered through the lense of Russian romanticisim. The slow movement, Larghetto, is a lyrical, valedictory melody full of poignancy. The finale, Allegro con fuoco, begins with a powerful, explosive introduction which leads to an exciting fugue which is masterfully developed. This superb romantic quartet has been out of print for more than a century and we are pleased to offer it to professionals and amateurs alike.