Boccherini: Symphony in A, Op. 12/6; Symphony in E flat, Op. 35/5; Symphony in C minor, Op. 41; Symphony in D, Op. 42

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COMPOSERS: Boccherini
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi Suite
WORKS: Symphony in A, Op. 12/6; Symphony in E flat, Op. 35/5; Symphony in C minor, Op. 41; Symphony in D, Op. 42
PERFORMER: Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin
CATALOGUE NO: HMT 7901597
With so many of Haydn’s mature symphonies under-recorded and under-appreciated, should record companies be turning their attention to Boccherini? Well, yes, if the music is as absorbing and individual as these four symphonies and as deftly played as these accounts by the unconducted Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin.

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Of course, Haydn at his best is incomparable, but Boccherini at his best, although not as viscerally thrilling or incorrigibly subversive as Haydn in outer movements, is as deft a spinner of musical argument, as playful with his tonal and textural contrasts and as graceful a minuettist as could be desired. His slow movements, in particular, are unfailingly elegant, not least because of his fondness for spotlit instrumental solos and a sense of proportion which sometimes eluded even Haydn.

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Performances are neat and tidy, crisply pointed and impeccably balanced, though one sometimes misses the guiding hand of a conductor, able to release a greater shot of the music’s élan vita and reveal rather more of its soul. Antony Bye