- String Quartet No. 1 in G major, Op. 11
Though a pupil of the great orchestrator Rimsky-Korsakov, and in turn a teacher to the likes of Rachmaninov, Glière, and Scriabin, Anton Arensky himself is a composer often forgotten when contemplating the Russian greats. Productive in many genres, it is perhaps in his chamber music that this unduly neglected composer truly shines. His writing has much of the same textural sophistication and melodic beauty as his close friend, Tchaikovsky. In fact, the theme on which the "Second Quartet"'s Variations are based is drawn from a Tchaikovsky quartet. Performing Arensky's "First" and "Second" string quartets, along with the "Piano Quintet," is the Ying Quartet. This ensemble's playing is characterized by a surprisingly precise, consistent uniformity of sound and exactness of articulation, making it seem as if a single instrument were playing as opposed to four independent parts. All aspects of their technical execution are polished and refined, which only enhances their equally enjoyable musical effusiveness, rich, deep tone, and understanding of Arensky's scores that casts them in the best possible light. This level of integrity continues when the quartet is joined by pianist Adam Neiman (whose name is criminally absent from the album's cover, and only mentioned in one fleeting passage in the liner notes). The same consistency of sound production and ensemble cohesiveness provides listeners with a highly enjoyable way to experience Arensky's chamber works.