Composer: Luigi Boccherini
Performer: Quartetto Borciani: Fulvio Luciani, Elena Ponzoni, Roberto Tarenzi, Claudia Ravetto
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: WavPack (tracks+cue)
Size: 275 MB
01. String Quartet in A major, Op. 39, G213: I. Allegro moderato
02. String Quartet in A major, Op. 39, G213: II. Minuetto: Allegro
03. String Quartet in A major, Op. 39, G213: III. Grave
04. String Quartet in A major, Op. 39, G213: IV. Allegro giusto
05. String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 32, No. 1, G201: I. Allegretto lentarello e affettuoso
06. String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 32, No. 1, G201: II. Minuetto
07. String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 32, No. 1, G201: III. Grave
08. String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 32, No. 1, G201: IV. Allegro vivace assai
09. String Quartet in E minor, Op. 32, No. 2, G202: I. Largo sostenuto
10. String Quartet in E minor, Op. 32, No. 2, G202: II. Minuetto- Larghetto – Minuetto
11. String Quartet in E minor, Op. 32, No. 2, G202: III. Rondeau comodo assai
Elegant Music, Elegantly Performed
As with all put-downs, there is a grain of truth to the famous one that attached to Luigi Boccherini. Some wag somewhere or other once called him “Haydn’s wife,” presumably because his music is less compositionally rigorous than Haydn’s. It can’t really be because it is less ardent or forceful, because it is often just that, whether in the case of Boccherini’s underrated symphonies or in his largely unknown string quarters. Take the Allegro vivace assai finale of the Op. 32, No. 1. This is wonderfully spirited music that happens not to have very distinguished musical building blocks–in fact, it almost sounds more like a progression of interesting bridge material than recognizable melodies strung together by such material. However, because Boccherini writes so skillfully for the string quartet and propels the music with such élan, you hardly notice. You’re just happy to be along for the ride.
And then, making a 180-degree turn, is Op. 32, No. 2, which starts with a lovely dark Largo dominated by a noble theme that is entirely memorable. In fact, as you listen to this music, you realize that the finale to Op. 32, No. 1, is an exception; melodiousness is the hallmark of Boccherini’s string quartet style. The elegant melodies and the filigree work that Boccherini uses to bridge between them are always much more important than the development of said themes. Thus it’s fair to say that his quartets retain more of the Rococo ideal of chamber music than do Haydn’s or Mozart’s, which use rigorous development as a way to expand the emotional bounds of the string quartet.
Be that as it may, these three quartets of Boccherini are beautiful, beautifully written works that are always entertaining, even if they are never profound. Quartetto Borciani perfectly captures Boccherini’s spirit and delivers performances that are the height of elegance and refinement. Beautifully realistic sound rounds out the picture. Recommended to all lovers of 18th-century chamber music.