Sergei Taneyev

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String Trio No.1 in D Major for Violin, Viola and Cello

"In 4 movements, the trio is a big scale work (as are most of Taneyev’s) and superb in every way. I have performed this trio several times, it never fails to please. The opening Allegro is in a romantic cast but has a hint of the baroque, especially in its middle fugal section. Most unusual is the Scherzo in contrapunto alla riversa in which the counterpoint is played in reverse. A short but powerful and elegiac Adagio is then followed by a very exciting finale, Allegro molto. Without doubt, this trio, with its wonderfully rich part-writing, should be in every string trio group’s library."---The Editor of The Chamber Music Journal


After finishing the trio in 1880, Taneyev sent the score to his friend and former teacher Tchaikovsky for criticism. On  the last page of the score, Tchaikovsky wrote, "I have examined at the entire work and am amazed at the composer's skill." The work was performed shortly thereafter but for some reason was never published. For the next 76 years, the manuscript languished in the archives of the Tchaikovsky museum in Klim outside of Moscow. Finally in 1956 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Taneyev's birth, the trio was published.


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.

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