If chamber music was not top of the list in 19th-century Russian composers’ chosen media, Anton Rubinstein wrote more of it than most. There are string quartets, piano trios and duo sonatas together with the two piano quartets recorded here.
The first, in F major, is the composer’s own arrangement of a quintet for piano, flute, clarinet horn and bassoon; the second, in C major, was conceived for an ensemble of piano and string trio. The more satisfying of the two is the C major. Here Rubinstein shakes off the influence of Mendelssohn and also achieves a more coherent, balanced, fluid and organic structure.
The playing is especially potent in the dramatic sweep of the C major, in which Rubinstein’s romantic creative urge is all the more confident, complementing Lisztian passion and bravura with colour and harmonic dexterity that lend it individuality.