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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: 20 minutes 30 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 G minor, G351
Op 37 No 13

Moderato  [5'36]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The opening Moderato of the G minor Quintet G351 has two main ideas – the smooth motif at the beginning, heard first in austere two-part counterpoint, and a little three-note repeated idea that makes its first appearance as Boccherini prepares to modulate away from the opening minor tonality. By introducing one or both of these ideas in a variety of different contexts, he produces a movement of unusually close-knit structure. He may not develop his ideas in the intensive way that Haydn does, but the sense of unity here is powerful, and, as in the F minor quintet, and in a way reminiscent of Mozart’s minor-key music, he uses the return of minor tonality in the latter stages of the movement to heighten the emotional impact.

The minuet is again in the major key. Typically for Boccherini there’s an alternation of lively, robust passages with elegant, suave melodic writing. The beautiful, quiet concluding phrase sounds very Mozartian to a modern listener, but could Mozart perhaps have been inspired to write such phrases by his older contemporary? The trio is scored as an expressive cello duet, the viola providing the bass and the full quintet only entering at the cadence points.

As with the Amoroso movement in the early quintet, the Larghetto amoroso of G351 gives answering phrases the character of a dialogue, immediately established by the opening exchanges between violin and cello. Sometimes the voices introduce more intense and earnest matters, and there’s plenty of subtle, conversational counterpoint, but it is a sweet seductive mood that prevails, underpinned by rich five-part harmony.

The G minor finale is not a rondo, but a compact, taut sonata movement. Baillot described it as ‘passionate and agitated’ and Boccherini maintains this character throughout, with constant changes of texture and dynamics, syncopated rhythms and a driving momentum. It seems typical of his sophisticated style, however, that such a forceful piece should end quietly, the agitation dying away in melancholy, rather than reaching a decisive, more predictable, conclusion.

from notes by Duncan Druce © 2002

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