Good for Praga in offering an alternative to the usual pairing of the Borodin String Quartet No. 1 with No. 2. While an equally lovely work, I find the latter’s use of those melodies which were lifted for the Broadway musical are sounding a bit corny by now. The first quartet has more going on than the second. Written about the same time as Borodin was working on his opera Prince Igor, there are some similar themes in the quartet. There is also a quote from one of Beethoven’s later quartets. Russian folk dances are heard in the work.
The Quintet is a much earlier work, and oddly was not published until 1960. The initial movement takes inspiration from Mendelssohn and the slow movement is in the style of a Russian folk romance. A short Menuetto precedes the fourth movement finale which has the feeling of a Russian dance, but is interrupted in the middle by a lovely adagio solo passage given to the first of the two cellos. The two cellos add a welcome warmth to the sound throughout the quintet, and their individual contributions are more easily appreciated due to the excellent hi-res surround reproduction.
– John Sunier