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on 27 July 2011
I felt compelled to review this double disc set as I have owned it for some time now and I couldn't believe that it hadn't been reviewed before. This is a wonderful collection from the Endellion String Quartet taken from their two CRD recordings of Tchaikovsky's quartets and sextet. It contains some great playing and is blessed with a very good recording also. The Endellion String Quartet is one of my favourite quartets particularly for their complete Beethoven collection and their Haydn recordings on Virgin to name but two. Brilliant Classics have done it again with lovely performances, great recordings and fine presentation. Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 February 2016
This two-disc set of Tchaikovsky’s three string quartets and his ‘Souvenir de Florence’ sextet has excellent sound quality. The quartets are worth four stars both in terms of composition and playing; the playing on the ‘Souvenir’ is worth five.

The first quartet is famed for the melody of its ‘andante cantabile’ and for its syncopated scherzo. The version recorded here by the Endellion String Quartet includes a repeat of the first movement’s exposition.

The first quartet was composed in 1871; the second in 1874, and it is notable how much Tchaikovsky progressed between these two dates, in particular in becoming his own man in the manner and substance of his communication to his audience. His first is delightful but academic; the second is more free and full of emotion.

It is interesting in this context to note that on first hearing, without knowing it had been written by Tchaikovsky, the first quartet might have been by any number of composers; but the second is most definitely his. It is more alive, more responsive to the world with its powerful opening movement, tipsy scherzo, bleak ‘andante’, and playful finale.

Barely two years later and the third quartet was composed. Its first movement has deep pathos in its introduction whilst the development bears the stresses (both thematic and harmonic) that are usually associated with Tchaikovsky’s style. The opening sad theme plays out the end of the first movement to be followed by a slow movement marked ‘andante funebre e doloroso ma con moto’. Indeed, the whole quartet is dedicated to the recently-deceased violinist who had led the premieres of the first and second quartets. But if a morbid Tchaikovsky is too much for your tastes, the scherzo is jolly and the finale vigorous.

A viola and cello join the quartet for the ‘Souvenir de Florence’ of 1890. The opening bars should convince any listener that it is a special work. The viola and cello additions create a deep richness of sound, and this, combined with Tchaikovsky’s melodic flare and mastery of effects, makes all four movements shine. The playing here is superlative.

The disc set comes with an extra – an early first movement, all that remains of a proposed quartet of 1865.
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on 2 October 2012
The quartets and the Souvenir de Florence are played here with real passion and depth. I prefer these interpretations to the Borodin Quartet. Another fine version of the Op.70 sextet is on this recording with a fine group of soloists: Dvorak: String Sextet / Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence
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on 11 February 2013
These are lovely performances, are of an area of Tchaikovsky's works that I knew very little about. Having the symphonies and the operas and ballet scores in your blood does not quite prepare you for how vivid and personal these smaller scale works are.
He was undoubtedly a genius. I recommend them to all lovers of beautifully crafted works of art.
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on 6 January 2012
This is a very good set, nicely priced and contains all of the string quartets and the sextet. Beautifully played and well packaged. Very impressed.
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on 29 March 2014
If you know it you know it.......
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on 4 February 2013
This is a gift, so I've not played it yet. But I have heard the Endellion String Quartet previously, so was able to rely on this recording of Tchaikovsky's wonderful Complete String Quartets.
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