Movement 1: Amoroso
Movement 2: Allegro e con spirito
Movement 3: Minuetto – Trio – Minuetto da capo
Movement 4: Rondo: Andante
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