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Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743 - 1805) 
Cello Concertos Vol. 3
Cello Concerto No. 9 in Bb, G.482
Cello Concerto No. 10 in D, G.483
Cello Concerto No. 11 in C, G.573
Cello Concerto No. 12 in Eb, G.deest (same as “senza G” below)
Raphael Wallfisch, cello [cadenzas by Wallfisch]
Northern Chamber Orchestra/Nicholas Ward
Recorded in St. Thomas’ Church, Stockport, UK, 29 May 2004
Notes in English and Deutsch
NAXOS 8.557589 [71.54]


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Comparison recording:

Cello Concerti Gg. 482, 483, 573, “senza G.” David Geringas, cello; Padua and Venice Chamber Orchestra/Bruno Giuranna, Claves CD 50-8816.

The “G” numbers refer to the catalogue published in 1969 by Yves Gérard.  The famous “Boccherini Cello Concerto” was worked up from movements 1 and 3 from No. 9, G.482, and movement 2 from No. 7, G.480 (not included in the present recording),  by Friedrich Grützmacher in 1890 by means of heavy editing, revision, and re-orchestration, and it bears little resemblance to the real thing.  Although very popular when I was a teenager, it is fortunately not heard much now that we have the originals to compare, and our ears have become more accepting of authentic Classical period sound.

It has been my pleasure lately to recommend many Naxos releases for excellent performances and superior sound, and on many occasions I have very much enjoyed the playing of Rafael Wallfisch.  However, in this case, the three-disk Claves set has a clear edge in richer sound and performance, more sensual feeling.  On the other hand, the Naxos disk is still a very fine recording and is easily available at favourable prices, whereas the Claves set may be difficult to locate and one must buy all three disks whether or not you actually want that much Boccherini all at once.  The contents of the Naxos disk is identical to the third disk of the Claves set, and I haven’t heard volumes 1 and 2 from Naxos.

Great composers are called such because of the quality of their music, but also because they wrote in popular forms and had a consistent level of quality, and because we have had a chance to become familiar with their musical language and understand what they are saying to us.  We have come to know them and to trust them to write what we want to hear a lot of the time.  Less celebrated composers may write one or two pieces just as well as the very great, or, as in the case of Boccherini, write a lot of great music in a form — the classical cello concerto — that is just not a popular form at the present time.  To paraphrase what was once said of Milton, “the reward of scholarship is to be able to love second-rate music,” a meaty topic we’ll get into some other time. 

There is nothing second-rate about Boccherini.  Boccherini was a very great composer and these concerti are what he loved to write most.  I recommend this disk to every music lover; get to know Boccherini’s language and you’ll end up loving his music and wanting to hear it often.  There is something here for everyone — good tunes, vital rhythms, good spirits, little jokes, thoughtful repose, great beauty.

Paul Shoemaker

see also Review by Patrick Waller




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