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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67287
Recording details: March 2001
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: January 2002
Total duration: 23 minutes 19 seconds

'To have this fascinating music vividly recorded in such fine performances, both polished and refreshing, with Richard Lester a perfect partner for the prize-winning Vanbrugh Quartet, makes this an ideal sampler' (Gramophone)

'Boccherini has never had it so good … the Vanbrugh gives performances it would be hard to beat' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The Vanbrugh and Lester create an extraordinarily sweet, warm, smooth tone' (American Record Guide)

'The performances are highly polished, full of zest and finely recorded. An excellent release' (International Record Review)

'This is spirited and vigorous chamber music, performed with gusto' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Intonation is in the centre of every note, the unanimity and balance between the instruments is impeccable, while the choice of tempos seems well-nigh ideal. Hyperion's sound quality complements their elegant performances. Highly recommended' (The Strad)

'The Vanbrughs make an alluring case for the three works here' (The Irish Times)

'The partnership is both diverting and eloquent, with Lester matching perfectly the qualities of the Vanbrugh … There’s so much to enjoy' (The Northern Echo)

'on trouvera ici la meilleure initiation aux quintettes de Boccherini' (Répertoire, France)

'Le Quatuor Vanbrugh auquel s’est joint l’excellent Richard Lester, montre une belle homogénéite de timbres et un art consommé dans l’agencement des différents plans sonores voulus par le compositeur. Un ensemble enthousiaste' (Classica, France)

String Quintet in E major, G275
composer
1771; Op 13 No 5

Amoroso  [5'30]
Rondo: Andante  [7'12]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Instead of the usual sonata allegro, the first movement is a moderately paced Amoroso, muted and sensuous. Over a throbbing bass, the violins sing sweetly in thirds, answered immediately by viola and first cello. Boccherini thus establishes at the very start a sense of dialogue – the conversational manner that allows each instrument to develop its role. The music becomes more reflective and pensive, and then the opening idea returns. But now comes a surprise; the two cellos begin a closely integrated duet, using much quicker notes than we’ve heard so far – the effect is like a sudden nocturnal breeze. As the viola repeats the bass notes, the cellos climb higher and higher, before we return to the movement’s expected course, as though nothing had happened.

The second-placed Allegro e con spirito is more the kind of piece one would have expected as an opening movement – it makes a wonderfully bright, energetic contrast to the Amoroso. The harmony, as so often with Boccherini, is extremely simple, but there’s a wide variety of different phrase-lengths and styles of dialogue, and a quite fascinating range of different textures, with staccato and legato together, repeated notes and syncopations, brilliant passagework and lyrical melodies. The second subject is a cello melody played in the highest register; it is heard twice (so that both players get a chance to perform it), separated by a shadowy minor-key episode.

The A major minuet, the piece that is inseparable from the name of Boccherini and is the paradigm of suave rococo elegance (note the irony of its use in the 1950s film The Ladykillers), relies for its effect on the memorable syncopated violin melody, and an alluring, muted texture – the lower three instruments plucked while the second violin contributes a constant, smooth, shimmering background. The trio provides contrast by bringing the inner parts to the fore, but is unable entirely to forget the syncopated motif of the minuet. The finale is an extended rondo – the theme, marked ‘sotto voce’, circumscribed in range and harmonically quite static, provides a resting point between the episodes, each of which inhabits a different tonal region, featuring different instruments. First it is the turn of the viola and first cello, next an episode moving from E minor to G major, with second cello and second violin rising to prominence, and finally, in the key of C sharp minor, the first violin enjoys the limelight.

from notes by Duncan Druce © 2002

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'Favourite Classics' (CDH55001)
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