‘Taneyev's credentials as a Romantic symphonist are underlined by the Chandos coupling nof the First and Third, works of strength, personality and formidable craftsmanship. In terms of musical interest and quality of performance... merits attention.' The Telegraph
‘Long regarded as a dry theorist, Tchaikovsky's friend and avourite pupil has emerged as a master craftsman with a distinctive voice.' Classic FM Magazine
‘Polyansky and the Russian State Symphony have done Taneyev a superb service with these thoroughly prepared, expertly recorded performances. The music itself may be too firmly tied to academic apron-strings to be viable in the concert hall, and the composer's verdict in not releasing them was surely the right one. But these are still need-to-know pieces for anyone interested in the Russian symphonic repertoire.' Gramophone
Taneyev is better known as a pupil of Tchaikovsky who criticised his master for putting ballet music into a symphony! Soviet musicology has also dwelt more upon the theoretical aspects of the composer's work, not least the influence of his huge study, Strict Counterpoint in the Convertible Style. This has meant that many works which the composer was too self-critical to admit to publication (only the Fourth Symphony was published) were studiously reconstructed, and recently musicologists and collectors have reassessed the legacy of Taneyev's music.
Symphony No.1, in E minor was never even performed in Taneyev's lifetime. Reasonable conjecture suggests that it was one of many tasks set for the 16-year old student by Tchaikovsky. Taneyev's orchestration throughout is melodic and lyrical; the example of Tchaikovsky clearly fired his assistant's imagination. By the time he completed his Third Symphony in 1884, Taneyev had taken Tchaikovsky's place as Professor at the Moscow Conservatory. There is much of Brahms's easy-flowing spirit and natural polyphony, within the work, as well as foreshadowing another Russian symphonist, Glazunov.
Taneyev's compositional style is characterised by its fastidious craftsmanship, the composer's inclination to contrapuntal techniques and his adept handling of large-scale forms. A lone figure in late nineteenth-century Russian music, he was openly contemptuous of contemporary nationalist composers and his work owes little to Russian tradition.