BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) String Quintet in A Minor Op.
25 No. 6 [23:48] String Quintet in C Op. 25 No.
4 [19:52] String Quintet in D Minor Op.
25 No. 1 [15:55] String Quintet in E Op. 11 No. 5 – Minuetto [3:40]
Europa Galante (Fabio Biondi, Enrico Casazza (violins); Ernesto Braucher
(viola); Maurizio Naddeo, Antonio Fantonuoli (cellos)) rec. Montevarchi (Toscare), Italy,
5-8 December 1999
VIRGIN CLASSICS 50999 503 4082 8 [59:97]
is quite simply the most enjoyable recording of the music of
Boccherini that I have ever heard. The playing is at once cultivated
and fresh. Every opportunity is taken to bring out the many
contrasts of texture, volume and articulation inherent in the
music, and for once there is never any sense that the players
find the music in any way routine or unimportant. As a result,
neither does the listener, and I found that each time I put
the disc on I was immediately hooked, wanting to know what came
next and how the players would treat it. Admittedly there are
a few moments where it might be possible to charge them with
some exaggeration of the unpredictability that they find in
the music, but better this than a too polite approach depriving
it of its special character, so different from that of Haydn
or Mozart. There are special delights to be found in each movement
– for instance, the turbulent first movement of the A Minor
Quintet or the strange Minuet of the D Minor. Throughout I was
astonished at the different sounds that the composer manages
to conjure using the additional cello, and at his delightful
use of Spanish rhythms and melodic patterns.
recording is clear with a good balance between the instruments.
The only criticism I can make is of a small error in listing the
contents on the sleeve and in the booklet. These refer to the
final track as being the Larghetto from Op. 25 No. 4. It is in
fact the Minuet which at one time was all that was performed by
the composer – from Op. 11 No. 5 in E. The first time I heard
it here I enjoyed the added decorations in the repeat of the Minuet
although I am not convinced that they wear well on repetition.
It is however simple to omit this track when playing the recordings
of the three complete Quintets. When that is done, it is clear
why this disc should be included in a series entitled “The Gramophone
Classical Music Guide recommends”. It well deserved such a recommendation,
and it can be strongly recommended again in this reissue.
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