Alexander Glazunov is still primarily known for his orchestral works, but his chamber and piano music is starting to become generally available - which is indeed fortunate; his first piano sonata is an absolute masterpiece, and his string quartets, while less immediately captivating than his best orchestral music, deserve at least the occasional outing. Those who know his orchestral music will not really be surprised by the chamber works, though; Glazunov was a conservative but an expert craftsman and his often memorable themes are treated with imagination and skill.
The five Novelettes are indeed superb, full of memorable tunes, aching melancholy, atmosphere and exuberance - the five movements are supposed to be in various national styles, through which we get a wide variety of colorful solutions that all sound distinctly Russian (and distinctly Glazunov). It is an early work (1886 is the most common date given for their composition, though the booklet note here gives 1881), but Glazunov was a prodigy and these early works certainly exhibit all the qualities for which his music is appreciated and more. The Fine Arts Quartet plays it with warmth and brilliance if lacking the last touch of tonal refinement - it's a good performance, but not preferable to the Vertavo Quartet, which is the only other version I am familiar with. In any case, this is music that truly demands to be heard by all music lovers.
The string quintet (1891-92) is scored for string quartet augmented with a second cello (here Nathaniel Rosen). It opens with a beautiful, unabashedly romantic Allegro followed by a Scherzo which is both spry and tuneful but lacks the surging wistfulness of Glazunov's best scherzos. The Andante, however, is deeply touching and the Finale is salutatory and spirited. It is not quite a masterpiece, I have to admit, but it is certainly a work worth getting to know and to return to. It is again well performed, though again just a little more tonal sheen and fullness would have added just a little bit to it all. The sound is good, though, and this is definitely a disc to be enjoyed.