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Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)
Cello Concertos - Volume 3
Cello Concerto No. 9 in B flat G.482 [18:19]
Cello Concerto No. 10 in D G.483 [21:17]
Cello Concerto No. 11 in C G.573 [17:25]
Cello Concerto No. 12 in E flat G.deest [14:53]
Raphael Wallfisch (cello)
Northern Chamber Orchestra/Nicholas Ward
Rec. St. Thomas’s Church, Stockport, UK, May 2004 DDD
NAXOS 8.557589 [71:54]

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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.

Boccherini’s music 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.

Completists will 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.

Patrick C Waller


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