Boccherini: Cello Sonatas, Vol. 1

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Boccherini
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Cello Sonatas, Vol. 1
PERFORMER: Christian Benda (cello), Sebastian Benda (fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554324
Another complete series, this one devoted to the entire cello sonata output – 34 works in all – of the indefatigably charming Luigi Boccherini. I’m not sure if I’d enjoy the experience of listening to the whole set when completed, but a single disc of five sonatas is a different matter. There’s nothing earth-shatteringly profound in the music, but many an elegant turn of phrase and much demand for virtuosity.

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Generally Christian Benda, the cello soloist, satisfies that demand, though there’s little of the light and colour one would expect from a historically aware performance. In fact, a close look at the booklet reveals that Benda plays a late 19th-century cello – using an appropriate bow and bowing technique – rather than an instrument in period condition. All the more curious, then, that his partner, Sebastian Benda, chooses to play on an Anton Walter fortepiano c1790, exactly right for the music; more curious still that Christian Benda – not Sebastian – appears in 18th-century garb on the booklet cover. Even so, the pair’s readings have a natural and pleasing flow about them which makes this release at least a reasonable investment at the price, even though the recording is slightly boxy. Stephen Pettitt