Borodin: Piano Quintet in C minor; Cello Sonata in B minor (reconstructed by Mikhail Goldstein); String Quartet No 2 in D major

Reviewed on Mon 20 Mar, 2017

When it comes to the 1881 Second String Quartet, of course, we're in the presence of heaven-sent genius – a wholly mature utterance that never fails to captivate in its melodic fecundity, exquisite craftsmanship and freshness of inspiration.

A generous Borodin chamber triptych comprising two youthful offerings and a bona fide masterpiece. The Piano Quartet from 1862 is not without its attendant quirks, most notably a curiously lopsided structure (the engagingly garrulous Allegro moderato finale – given here with the exposition repeat – lasts more than twice as long as the first two movements combined). Still, it's a work of no mean personality and charm, and Piers Lane and the Goldner String Quartet prove sensitive advocates. Next, the Australian ensemble's cellist, Julian Smiles, excels in a shapely account of the even earlier B minor Cello Sonata, a sweetly lyrical affair reconstructed from the incomplete manuscript parts by the Ukrainian composer/musicologist Mikhail Goldstein (1917-1989). When it comes to the 1881 Second String Quartet, of course, we're in the presence of heaven-sent genius – a wholly mature utterance that never fails to captivate in its melodic fecundity, exquisite craftsmanship and freshness of inspiration. The Goldners do it justice in a reading of considerable discernment, infectious spontaneity and palpable affection, and here as elsewhere the recording (from Potton Hall in Suffolk) is undistractingly natural to match.
–Andrew Achenbach