Boccherini: Cello Concertos: in D, G483; in G, G480; Aria accademica, ‘Se d’un amor tiranno’; Fandango in D

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COMPOSERS: Boccherini
LABELS: Ambroisie
ALBUM TITLE: Boccherini
WORKS: Cello Concertos: in D, G483; in G, G480; Aria accademica, ‘Se d’un amor tiranno’; Fandango in D
PERFORMER: Sandrine Piau (soprano); Pulcinella/Ophélie Gaillard (cello)


Cellist Ophélie Gaillard has gathered around her a ‘collective’ of virtuoso soloists, Pulcinella. A bonus DVD shows them rehearsing together, arriving at conclusions by consensus, yet with no hint of compromise in the musical outcome. Rather, they create striking synergy. Boccherini’s virtuosic demands are formidable. Gaillard describes the ‘eternal snows’ – the area of her strings covered in rosin dust into which she is frequently drawn – and the exotic sounds inspired by Spain, Spanish America and Africa, including upward and downward slides and rattling spiccato to imitate castanets. The effects are concentrated especially in the Fandango from Boccherini’s Quintet G448, enhanced with real castanets, drums and vibrant guitars. Almost a quarter-hour of music, virtually all on two chords, develops great energy sustained even through moments of near-silence. The concertos, too, test cello to the limit, well balanced by the one-to-a-part ‘orchestra’ including fortepiano continuo in G483 and a glorious slow movement with guitar in G480. Gaillard’s cadenza includes a witty reference to Mozart’s Figaro. The concert aria is a magnificent account, testing virtuosity – from Gaillard’s cello and Sandrine Piau’s vocal coloratura, spot-on throughout, culminating in a subtly-prepared duet-cadenza. Here, as throughout, you can sense the sheer delight of the performers. Recording is quite close, (breathing sometimes audibly passionate) and positively sparkles in a warm, resonant acoustic. A disc throwing new light on Boccherini both as cello virtuoso and composer. George Pratt