Boccherini: Quintets: in G minor, Op. 29, No. 6 G318; D minor, Op. 18, No. 5 G287; F, Op. 41, No. 2 G347

COMPOSERS: Boccherini
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Boccherini
WORKS: Quintets: in G minor, Op. 29, No. 6 G318; D minor, Op. 18, No. 5 G287; F, Op. 41, No. 2 G347
PERFORMER: Ensemble Explorations/Roel Dieltiens (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901894
In 1770 Boccherini was appointed ‘composer and virtuoso of the Chamber’ to Don Luis, the Spanish King’s brother, in Madrid. He composed around 125 works for the excellent string quartet he found there, and joined them as additional cellist in as many more quintets. By design or happy accident these three are new to the catalogue, performed by an ensemble founded a decade ago by Roel Dieltiens. With his first cello part freed from the need to provide the bass line, Dieltiens clearly delights in indulging himself in Boccherini’s virtuoso role. In the first Minuet he creates a novel texture in octaves with first violin and, in the D minor quintet, ranges high into the stratosphere, vying with violin. The allegretto and ferociously energetic finale of the F major quintet reveal a finely-honed and fluent ensemble with impeccable intonation.

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Boccherini described his compositional style as ‘music written to speak to the heart’. If it does so with a proliferation of ideas rather than the taut structures of contemporary Viennese composers, Boccherini’s melodic gift is nonetheless striking – the repeated rondo theme of G.287 haunts my memory still. Recorded sound is a touch close and bright, though it clarifies details within this relatively complex string texture. George Pratt