Although the string quartet was a rarely used form in 19th-century Russia, Tchaikovsky and Borodin both produced superb, inventive compositions in the genre. Included in this volume are the three quartets by Tchaikovsky and the two by Borodin.
Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11 is notable for its imaginitive freshness and famous ''Andante Cantabile'' movement. His Quartet No. 2 in F Major, Op. 22 displays remarkable fluency and skilled craftsmanship, while Quartet No. 3 in E-Flat Minor, Op. 30 combines austerity with deeply felt intensity and vigor.
Borodin's two string quartets are characterized by his impeccable craftsmanship, expert understanding, and use of his instruments. The popular String Quartet No. 2 is especially known for the luxuriant richness of its third movement ''Nocturne.''