String Quartet No.6 in B flat Major, Op.19
"Taneyev's Sixth String Quartet dates from 1905. The magnificent first movement, Allegro giusto, is superbly constructed, especially in the development section. The themes are very plastic and quite lyrical. The sorrowful Adagio serioso which follows is full of elevated sentiment. A scherzo, marked Gigue, is fresh and has a lovely singing section as well. The finale begins Allegro moderato, but is shortly interrupted by a fiery Presto. In fact, the entire movement is filled with interruptions as one new theme follows interrupts another."----Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.
Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915) is one of the greatest Russian composers from the last half of the 19th and early 20th centuries and probably, from this group, the one whose music is the least known in the West. Taneyev came from an aristocratic family that patronized the arts and when Sergei's talent became apparent, his father sent him to the newly opened Moscow Conservatory at the age of 10. His main teachers there were Nicolai Rubinstein for piano and Tchaikovsky for composition. Although he became a brilliant pianist, Taneyev opted for a career as a composer and teacher and soon became a professor at the Conservatory. His fame both as a teacher and as a composer quickly spread. Among his many students were Gliere, Rachmaninov, Gretchaninov, Scriabin and Medtner. In Russian concert halls, one always finds a bust of Taneyev alongside those of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Sadly, the fame of this outstanding composer has not spread beyond his homeland.
Influenced by Tchaikovsky, Taneyev preferred to write "pure" music rather than Russian-sounding or so-called "nationalistic" music based on Russian folk melodies. As such, he remained outside of the famous Nationalist School headed by Rimsky-Korsakov at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and his music sounds markedly different from that of Rimsky and his famous students such as Borodin and Glazunov.