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Sonata in C major, G17 (with cello) (c.1772) [12:41]
Sonata in E flat major, G10 (with cello) (c.1764) [11:56]
Sonata in C minor, G2 (with bass) (c.1768) [13:13]
Sonata in A major, G4 (with cello) [14:19] (c.1773)
Sonata in B flat major G565 (with bass) [15:11]
Richard Lester (cello)
David Watkin (cello)
Chi-Chi Nwanoku (double bass)
rec. 31 January, 1-2 February 1994, All Saints Church, East
Finchley, London. DDD
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55219 [67:30]
Hyperion has reached into their
back catalogue to reissue this collection of five Boccherini
cello sonatas on their Helios
budget label. Recorded
at the All
Saints Church in London back in 1994 the eminent
cellist Richard Lester is partnered here by cellist David
Watkin and Chi-Chi Nwanoku on double bass.
Italian-born Luigi Boccherini was one of
the most prolific classical composers of his time, a true
cosmopolitan, having lived in many of Europe’s major cities,
namely Milan, Madrid, London, Berlin and Amsterdam. In his
day he was principally celebrated as a virtuoso cellist,
although, he enjoyed a considerable reputation for his compositions,
the vast majority of which were in the field of chamber music.
Boccherini’s artistic gift and pioneering
talent are often overlooked as a throwback to the late-baroque
period of the Italian school. In fact his compositional technique
is entirely characteristic of his time. As an immediate contemporary
of the great composers Haydn and Mozart, the artistic talent
of this composer has unquestionably been overshadowed by
their enduring popularity.
As a cellist of considerable repute a great
deal of Boccherini’s cello parts are designed to exploit
the technical resources of his beloved instrument. Not surprisingly
the cello was the favoured solo instrument in many concertos,
sonatas and particularly, in chamber music, including a remarkable
series of works for string quintet with two cellos; the first
of which is given a concertante part..
Boccherini published over ninety quintets
for the combination of two violin, viola and two cellos;
a scoring of which he seems to have been the originator.
His cello sonatas, however, were not published in his lifetime
not even appearing in the thematic catalogue that he personally
kept from 1760 to his death in 1805. It is thought probable
that he did not consider them worthy of publication as they
were early works.
The cello sonatas comprise two parts with
the description of ‘violoncello solo’ and ‘basso’. Boccherini
was not specific about the type of accompaniment that was
to be used and according to Richard Lester the word ‘basso’, “in
this context seems to mean a second cello or a double bass
rather than a continuo instrument.”
Although we are not provided with any specific descriptions
the players use authentic instruments or period copies; with
gut strings and period bows. The timbre of their instruments
is first class with Lester’s cello containing a broad mellow
tone. Lester does not adhere to historical performance practice
preferring to allow more interpretative freedom. Lester
accompanied by David
Watkin and Chi-Chi Nwanoku are clearly at home in this music
providing high expression with superb technique throughout
and those additional ingredients of sincerity and integrity
together with a well developed sense of style. On occasions
the tempo changes did not uniformly convince and the volume
of the accompaniment may prove too prominent for some.
The ecclesiastical acoustic of All Saints Church, East Finchley is the perfect
choice for a recording venue. The players are closely caught
with the advantage of crystal clear and well balanced sound.
This is string playing of the highest calibre but in truth
the music is best taken in bite-size chunks.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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