TANEYEV Complete Quintets
Taneyev was one of the few people from whom his teacher Tchaikovsky would tolerate criticism, though Taneyev himself regretted that his own music was so often compared with Brahms’s. Yet it is indeed by way of Brahms that the Piano Quintet is best approached, in the majestic sweep of its form but also for the robust craftsmanship to which Taneyev paid such attention. The first movement, lasting some 20 minutes out of the total 45, is certainly not short of ideas, but they are ordered so well, with such an absorbing flow of development, that it does not seem unduly extended. The music needs this expansiveness; and the ensuing Scherzo is suitably spirit-lifting, closer to Tchaikovsky in its lightness and sparkle than to a Brahmsian scherzo. The passacaglia paces along steadily in a well-chosen tempo – the artists have an exceptional understanding of all that Taneyev is doing – and the finale is marked by, among other things, a liking for turning aside to beguiling episodes rather than storming to a conclusion.
It is a very appealing work, sensitively understood and played here, as are the two string quintets. These are smaller pieces, the C major work (Op 16) with another delightful scherzo, with Tchaikovsky this time the father figure in the delightful play with dance elements. The G major Quintet (Op 14) again has a long, but justifiably long, opening movement, and a finale whose disparate ideas only really cohere because Taneyev took such technical trouble to make them do so.