BORODIN Chamber Works, Vol 1

The evergreen Second Quartet and two lesser-known works, delightfully played

Author: 
David Fanning

BORODIN Chamber Works, Vol 1

  • String Quartet No. 2
  • Sonata for Cello
  • Piano Quintet

It’s not by chance that only one of the works on this disc has a place in the permanent repertoire. Borodin’s Second Quartet is as over-rich in memorable ideas as the Piano Quintet is short of them (that the latter had to wait more than 50 years for a first public performance in 1915 and another 20 for publication is no scandal), while the Cello Sonata is a speculative completion by Mikhail Goldstein of a piece that was surely left as a torso because it was not turning out all that well.

Still, as a library acquisition, calculated to enrich one’s perspectives on a wonderful composer and on the under-cultivated area of Russian chamber music in the nationalist camp, the value of the PraΩák Quartet’s enterprise is obvious. Their playing brings many delights of its own. The Second Quartet is idiomatically and individually coloured without ever sounding forced, and their pianist and cellist colleagues make contributions in no way inferior to the more limited competition in their respective works. The folksy springiness they bring to the (all-too-brief) Scherzo of the Quintet is a real highlight. Such affectionate and unpretentious music-making, in nicely balanced recordings, does Borodin an admirable service.

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