Completed in 1874, Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 2 may not have been as well-received by the public as his first, but he was especially happy with it himself, describing how he wrote it almost in one sitting, it having “flowed out of me so easily and simply”, especially the first movement with its slow introduction. A feather-light, lucidly-scored Scherzo follows, after which a minor-keyed Andante ma non tanto injects some pathos before the mood lightens again for the finale. Rich textures are then the theme for much of his late-career sextet, Souvenir de Florence. First penned in 1890 upon his return from Florence where he’d completed his opera The Queen of Spades, then revised the following year as he wrote The Nutcracker, it contains shades both of Italian opera and Russian folk. Also a fugal section in the zesty finale that Tchaikovsky was apparently very proud of.