Nicolai Tcherepnin was born in St. Petersburg in 1873. At his father’s insistence he was trained in law, gaining a law degree in 1895. He continued to compose all through his studies, and in 1898 also earned a degree in composition under Rimsky-Korsakov. in 1902 he became the regular conductor of the Russian Symphony concerts; from 1909 to 1917 he was a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Whilst in this position he conducted the premier performance of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russe, and toured with the company around Europe. in 1918 he was invited to become the director of the National Conservatory of Tblisi in Georgia, but after the Bolshevik takeover in 1921 he moved to Paris, where he lived for the rest of his life.
These six miniature quartets were originally scored for four horns. Each is a beautifully crafted gem capturing a different mood and style. The Nocturne is still and calm; The Ancienne Chanson Allemende has a gentle folksy feel, and La Chasse is an energetic hunting scene. Choeur Dansé is a lilting dance in triple time, Ancien Chanson Russe is a fugal teatment of a folk song, and the final Choral is an arrangement of JS Bach’s chorale Wachet Auf. The lush romantic harmonies throughout are sustained by the four parts alone in a triumph of part writing.