- String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33/1
- String quartet No. 13 in A minor, Op. 86
During his lifetime, Nikolaï Miaskovsky was as prominent a composer as his compatriots Shostakovich and Prokofiev, but regrettably is far less known now. His output was massive -- 27 symphonies, 13 string quartets -- and mature and developed from first to last. This Ar Re-Se features the Renoir Quartet performing the first and last of Miaskovsky's magnificent string quartets. Stylistic similarities can definitely be heard with Prokofiev and Shostakovich, but Miaskovsky's musical voice is still distinct, influenced more perhaps by the Germans. Like Shostakovich and Beethoven before him, Miaskovsky's quartets are a true conversation among four equal players. The Renoir Quartet captures this facet in its stellar performances marked by impeccable balance, an admirable blending of tone, and a clear sense of a unified vision of the score. Technically brilliant from start to finish, the Renoir Quartet plays with spotless intonation, crisp articulation, moderate vibrato, and an immense dynamic range. The precision in the Allegro tenebroso, Op. 33, is almost electric, warmth in the Op. 86 Andante is delightfully lyrical, and drive in the finales of both quartets is enough to raise listeners from their chairs. With performances as gripping as these, we can all hope the Renoir Quartet may someday choose to complete a cycle with the remaining 11 Miaskovsky quartets.