Boccherini: Symphony in C, G515; Symphony in D minor, G517; Symphony in A, G518; Symphony in D, G520

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Boccherini
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Symphony in C, G515; Symphony in D minor, G517; Symphony in A, G518; Symphony in D, G520
PERFORMER: London Festival Orchestra/Ross Pople
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66904
I do wish that writers of booklet notes would stop making extravagant claims. Here, Boccherini’s style is described as ‘at once original, unfailingly melodic, sophisticated and intriguingly exotic’. In fact, the four works on this CD are pleasant enough examples of the late 18th-century symphony, but could not by any stretch of the imagination be cited as compulsive listening. The performances bear some of the blame: how much did the London Festival Orchestra play these pieces in concert before coming to set them down for posterity? Not much is my guess: the readings tend to be generalised, so that where there are characterful twists and turns, they are glossed over. There’s also a degree of stylistic uncertainty, with nods in the direction of the period-instrument movement in some of the short-breathed phrasing, but also some anachronistic string portamenti. That’s not to say the playing is sloppy; rather, it sounds like a group of skilled session musicians coming together and laying it down by the yard. The recording venue is not named, but the dry and forward sound doesn’t help the overall picture. If you want to explore Boccherini the symphonist, try Goritzki and the German Chamber Academy of Neuss on CPO. Martin Cotton

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