The Italian composer
and cellist Luigi Boccherini wrote a considerable amount of
music for his instrument. Twelve concertos are now known; the
last only being discovered in a library in Naples in 1987. There
are 34 sonatas plus string quintets with two cello parts - a
genre he seems to have invented and which Schubert used for
one of his last and greatest works. This new release completes
the set of concertos for Naxos, volumes 1 (Nos 1-4 on 8.553571)
and 2 (Nos 5-8 on 8.553572) having appeared in 1999 with Tim
Hugh as the soloist, accompanied by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
This label also instigated a series of the sonatas but it has
so far stalled after volume 1 appeared with Christian Benda
as the cellist on 8.554324, also in 1999.
is most influenced by Haydn and is tuneful but only rarely breaks
new ground or is particularly memorable. The concertos are relatively
early works, probably composed in the 1760s although No 12 may
have been written later, possibly in 1772. All are fairly short,
have three movements, the central of which is slow and they
provide plenty of opportunity for displays of virtuosity.
I do not know why
Raphael Wallfisch took over this series from Tim Hugh - perhaps
it might have something to do with Hugh’s association with the
LSO and the launch of their own label? - but he is quite a catch
for Naxos. His playing is a little more forthright than Hugh
and seems to serve the music better. The 9th concerto
is perhaps the pick of the bunch and Wallfisch immediately sets
the tone for some lively and sympathetic performances. The accompaniments
from the Northern Chamber Orchestra under Nicholas Ward are
excellent. The sound is well-balanced although the church acoustic
is slightly more resonant than would be ideal.
want all 12 of Boccherini’s cello concertos and the bargain-priced
Naxos series is the most obvious choice. There is nothing at
all wrong with the previous releases but this new offering would
certainly be my recommendation for a single sampler. The sonatas
provide quite a different experience and, to complement it,
the disc cited above would do nicely.