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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: 18 minutes 4 seconds

String Quintet in F minor, G348
Op 37 No 19

Adagio cantabile  [4'38]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the F minor Quintet G348 there is a string of ideas in this relative key (A flat major) including a haunting melody that recurs, still fixed in this same key, towards the end of the development section. In the recapitulation the opening motif, so summarily dismissed at the start of the movement, now dominates; a long passage based on it over a pedal C in the bass builds a powerful sense of tension that’s released in a flurry of violin demisemiquavers.

The lively major-key minuet builds its texture gradually by having the instruments enter in turn with the main theme. The idea that dominates the trio is treated very differently, the instruments all playing the same rhythm and the music switching between F major and F minor. The gracious, formal Adagio alternates highly ornamented solos for violin and cello. After we’ve heard the leisurely exposition twice, however, Boccherini does something quite unexpected: the martial rhythm that had ended the exposition is repeated in a succession of ferociously disruptive diminished-seventh chords. Eventually we find ourselves back in the vicinity of F minor, the quintet’s home key, ready for the tranquil F major rondo theme of the finale to steal in. This rondo has a lot in common with that in the E major quintet, though it is of more compact structure. As in the earlier work, there’s a slightly static but memorable main theme, with more varied, spirited music in the intervening episodes. Here the rondo theme is given delightful additions on its reappearance and the last time it comes round it is extended most beautifully. The first episode introduces an exciting eruption of quick violin triplets; the second one, back in F minor, features the darker sounds of the quintet’s lower voices, interrupted by an echo of the violin’s desperate flight of fancy from the first movement.

from notes by Duncan Druce © 2002

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