Grechaninov is more famous for his five symphonies that bear the trademarks of a post-Tchaikovskian composer imbued with slight avant garde trends. These two quartets presented by the Utrecht Quartet are also representative of the finest Russian traditions and their issue on this disc is most welcome.
Both works are of similar length and are structured in four movements. Op. 2 is perhaps slightly more accessible and its first movement is particularly trenchant with some fine inflexions and a general hallowed beauty. The Utrecht players are a very homogeneous group and they play the work with an evident relish.
Op. 70 is more stern and lugubrious but no less interesting. Here, Grechaninov inverts the middle movements order with the slow movement coming third and this Largo is extremely well constructed, almost taking a leaf out of Beethoven's book in the later quartets.
The MD&G recording is crisp and clear with particular emphasis on the upper violin range. The Utrecht Quartet are persuasive and distinct advocates of the music and one hopes for more recordings of off-the-beaten track repertoire in the quartet field from them on this label.
Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech