Steven Isserlis wrote of him:
Taneyev the composer is impossible to categorise. It is true that his music is full of challenging harmonies, learned fugues and complex textures. Even more striking, though – and the reason that performing his music has become something of a mission for many musicians, including the ones taking part in this festival – is his wild dramatic flair, his crazy humour, and the samovar-like warmth of his musical heart.
It is music like no other. Quite why it has never become more widely known is a mystery. Perhaps that was down to Taneyev himself – he was certainly no self-publicist. He spent most of his time at his house in the country, being looked after by his former nanny, and had a placard permanently nailed to the door: “Sergei Ivanovich is out.”
The first movement, Allegro con spirito, almost symphonic in tone, is filled with spirited and appealing melodies. The middle movement is a highly effective Vivace con fuoco. It features a very energetic main theme, while the equally spirited second theme is, both in its rhythm and melody, of Slavic origins. The huge finale, Tema con variazione, consists of the andantino theme and nine extensive variations. It is an excellent example of Taneyev’s extraordinary technique and art.