Cesar Cui wrote three string quartets,
String Quartet No. 1, Op. 45 (1890)
String Quartet No. 2, Op. 68 (1907)
String Quartet No. 3, Op. 91 (1913)
I wonder how it sounds and why nobody seems to remember these pieces, not to say do a recording on it?
Hmmm...marketing issues perhaps. I've never heard any of the Cui string quartets. When I started hunting for the Big Five, it was Borodin who stood out mostly although that led on to other discoveries. Like you - I'm a huge fan of Gliere's three string quartets, although rather upset that I have each quartet on different formats so I can't play them consecutively without a break. Glinka's works are enjoyable on a Sunday lite as are Anton Arensky's and Alexander Taneyev.
For the Russian quartet sceptics - Mendelssohn isn't terrible at all; his works are at least as good as Tchernov's strinq quartets, with which it has been famously coupled. Mendelssohn gets enough marketing as it is, and Germanophilia is as latently rife as much as Sovietphobia. Svetlanov's string quartets have an aching classical beauty and a sonorism which precedes (and surpasses ) that of Kabalevskys' two string quartets which were famous in their day, Composers Union in accord too. The Ciurlionis string quartet (more naturalistic, perhaps not as evocative as the symphonic arrangement of La Mer by Debussy'.
There is nothing in German music which compares to this body of string quartet literature for the same era. Moving into the early modernity, Knipper, Mosolov and Roslavets probably gave Russians a terrible image problem for making jarringly ugly futuristic music - much like the ugliness revered in the Second Viennese School which is what had become of much of German music (not the Jewish outlyers, given in a previous post). Although even ugliness has its own internal aesthetics, which is to say that in extreme ugliness, there is indeed...beauty in motif, or in the agony of trying to become music beautiful, ugly is, as ugly does. In the post-modern era, we have no absolute grasp of what is ugly and can define it into becoming beautiful.
This is different, than the arts of the beautiful. So back to the beautiful: Filipenko's long neglected three string quartets deserve to be heard by a new generation of Germanophliics
Nasidze; Tsindsatdze, although Georgian by today's standards, still are Russian, if the Austrian Schubert is German, rather than Austrian. Still - it's the string quartet cycles by Vissarion Shebalin (9 quartets) and his tutor, Nikolai Myaskovsky (13) and his predecessor, Glazunov (7, of whose the middle 2-5 are the most Russian in colour, along with the Novelettes and The Fridays work) which all conform to that extension of the tradition set by Borodin. Contemporaneous with Shostakovich comes along, Salmanov; Falik, Peiko, Levitin whose works are only just coming back into print (starting with Salmanov!). Falik's works are very attractive.
It's not that there isn't any Russian chamber string quartet of the 20th century: it just hasn't been openly marketed as aggressively as their better known German counterparts. That in itself, is a huge bias and blindspot into overlooking the gems in Russian string quartet repertoire, before we even move into the contemporary era of living Russian composers like Firsova, Smirnov, Gubaidulina The modern guys who break from it - like Elena Firsova and her husband, Smirnov and Edison Denissov are miles away into the avant garde 21st century.
Add to the list of Russian works for string quartet the op.2 quartet of Alexander Grechaninov. though perhaps a cut below the Borodin second it is a prime example of the Romantic Russian style.
And don`t forget the beautiful Octet of Gliere. I think that it is second only to the Borodin second Quartet for shear beauty.
That's an amazing recording. The Dante Quartet are superb - possibly the best recording of the Grechaninov IIIrd in recording? My Moyzes Quartet of the No.II & IV on Marco Polo is serviceable. The Kabalevsky string quartets recorded by the Glazunov Quartet renders them much more attractive to me, even if I can detect the beauty of the Grechaninov Quartets. Perhaps it's time to update to the Utrecht String Quartet for the complete Grechaninov Quartets.....?
The Utrecht Quartet is a good group, and they make a strong case for the quartets. The sound is very good as it most often is on MD&G recordings. Did I miss something in this very interesting give and take? Correct me if I am wrong as I am often, but did the Tchaikovsky quartets get a mention? I think that the first is one with the Borodin second as the best to come out of Russia during the 19th century. I`m not covinced about his second and third. they might have made good a good Symphony or two, and at least in my recording there seems to me to have a touch of hysteria about them (Brodsky Quartet). If the String Quartet is four people talking to each other, these four are a bit over the top.
I liked the Utrecht Quartet - what I heard of them. They have some very interesting repertoire beyond the popular quartet literature. It's just the way their albums are packaged which makes me coy about them. Their Glazunov Quartet Cycle is probably the best on the market, although individual ones (like the St Petersburg Quartet or the Glazunov Quartet recording) yield more insights.
Ooops - I think most of us bypassed Tchaikovsky accidentally (on purpose). He isn't on my radar much, after I heard the Borodin Quartet's cycle recordings of the Tchaikovsky. I settled on the Taneyev Quartet's recordings of the Tchaikovsky quartets...oddly I didn't find the No I which might explain why I tended to leave Tchaikovsky out. I'll have to dig out that no. I and listen to it again.
Romantic literature isn't my forte; I suppose the Brodsky's reading of the Tchaikovsky overplays the emotions, much like most of their work. Their readings of the Shostakovich Quartet Cycle had me apostatized in an Edward Munch cringe until the CD finished. Like a horror movie, I had to plough through each CD of the XV quartets, recoiling in shock at the way they completely raped and demolished these sensitively wrought string quartets into four instruments simultaneously recorded in complete monologue.
I don't know about this Northern Flowers release specifically - haven't got it yet.
Depends on the vintage recording perhaps? Much of the Northern Flowers releases are from the St Petersburg Archives - dating back to the 1970's, 80's heyday of Soviet recordings, already released on Melodiya and the western Olympia recordings. The transfers are very well done, but as fans of the Taneyev Quartet will know - some more successful than others, and overall, have a lean and aggressive sound, compared to EMI recordings (Borodins) which have a tubby romantic preraphaelite love handle type approach to recordings.
The best of the Northern Flowers transfers: like the complete Tischenko String Quartet Cycles, or the Taneyev Quartet Cycles are superb. Some of the Myaskovsky Quartet Cycles are great, but some are just serviceable (like the recordings for No.IV/I). If you have a very transparent CD player, then you will need a warm tube amp and speakers to get the best of it. If you're going for downloads, I find digital downloads all sound 'thin', 'shrill' or metallic, but that's because I'm set up for an analogue/tube sound from CDs/vinyl LPs. This is the one thing that grates me about digital downloads: the shrill fatigue on moderate volumes over a longer period. Decent recordings on a good system don't contribute to as much hearing fatigue over time. The Northern Flowers ones are good though - you might find the digital sound acceptable if you upsampled.
Not sure if that's what you're hoping to hear. If you're just wanting to discover the sound, I guess digital downloads are okay, but take a look at the price that the Vissarion Shebalin string quartet cycles now command: they were only ever released by Olympia Records in their complete cycle before their demise. Hopefully Northern Flowers will bring the complete cycle back to life again.
That's the only complete version I know of...is there another?
I've seen the solitary Shebalin No. V recorded by the Borodins, but I (vary from the majority) and don't really care for their overly effusive romanticism. I can't remember if it was the No.V or No. VI which won the Stalin prize, before the rest of his works were denounced as formalist and he died writing his last quartet from ill health. His humanity in his masterpieces require excavation and patience: the insights however are unrivalled. I bought the CD set as soon as it came out, and I can remember thinking: "Mortal Mosolov - this music really is crud!~!" It just seemed to whine on and whinge on! No great developments; no stunned angry transformation of bitter pizzicati and furious glissandi predicting the end of the world. The whole cycle seemed rather bland, and I was really disappointed and shelved it.
Somehow, a few years later, his music just fell into place in my life. The quietly beautiful sinously wound threads of tapestry weave around the listener whose patience is rewarded with the arts of the hidden ... beauty, revealed slowly, as silk sewn into linen.
I really can't say how beautiful his music is, now that it has touched me: the lyrical thread from his tutor Myaskovsky is there; none of Shostakovich's petulant naughtiness and virtuously bad temperament which crafts brilliant angst ridden soviet music - it's like Shebalin crafted music for the arkangels with his left hand as he lay dying; lower than humans, yet touching above us all the same.
Yes - I love Shostakovich's string quartets too, but perhaps they are overrated and populist: they are too popular. Not that this is a bad thing, except insofar, as it numbs or blinds people to discovering the other great string quartet cycles out there. It is not that his string quartets are poor. Far from it - they are certainly one of the finest cycles, and make a great impression. But they have nothing of the dimension of Shebalin's sinewy at at times symphonic textures, which wistfully and gracefully wrap around the listener's consciousness, embedding him in timeless aural landscape.
Listening to Shostakovich and being somewhat of a Shostakovich string quartet fanatic, I initially found the Shebalin cycle rather boring and mundane. It has taken me years, to grow into appreciating it. We're lucky though: when Shebalin was at the height of his fame in the Soviet Union, even Soviet listeners were never graced with the complete cycle recordings by the Krasni Quartet. The new Boris Tchaikovsky recordings are by a quartet who have no name! This is not going to help their sales. Firstly - messing being eclipsed and confused by Peter Tchaikovsky,and then marketed by a nameless group :/
I don't recognise the players except for Ioff. I wonder where they come from musically. At first I thought they might be splintered from the Glazunov Quartet members in disguise, but the names are definitely different.