Taneyev: String Quartet No 8 in C major; String Quintet No 2 in C major, Op 16

Reviewed on Thu 02 Feb, 2017

Throughout the cycle, the Carpe Diem Quartet has been in competition with the 1970s Taneyev String Quartet accounts. Generally, the Taneyevs take a broader approach, while the Carpe Diems are more dynamic and focussed.

This volume completes the Carpe Diem String Quartet’s Taneyev cycle. Quartet No 8 is a relatively early work (1883), while the String Quintet, Op 16 (with two violas), comes from later in Taneyev’s career – 1905. But both display the composer’s penchant for inventive counterpoint and his ability to weave elegant melodies into his complex textures. Throughout the cycle, the Carpe Diem Quartet has been in competition with the 1970s Taneyev String Quartet accounts. Generally, the Taneyevs take a broader approach, while the Carpe Diems are more dynamic and focussed. In most cases, the Taneyev Quartet versions are preferable, but here, the Carpe Diem’s elegance and richness tip the balance. The accuracy of their playing is also superior, although not flawless, with problematic unison passages and occasional scratchy tone in the higher register. The audio is only serviceable, with the instruments frustratingly distant in the Quintet. But, reservations apart, these are still top choices for both works.
–Gavin Dixon