Hyperion Records

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

'Boccherini: Cello Quintets, Vol. 1' (CDA67287)
Boccherini: Cello Quintets, Vol. 1
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67287  Archive Service  
'Favourite Classics' (CDH55001)
Favourite Classics
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55001  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Movement 1: Amoroso
Movement 2: Allegro e con spirito
Movement 3: Minuetto – Trio – Minuetto da capo
Track 3 on CDA67287 [3'09] Archive Service
Track 3 on CDH55001 [3'33] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Movement 4: Rondo: Andante

String Quintet in E major, G275
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

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDH88030 track 3
Movement 3: Minuetto – Trio – Minuetto da capo
Recording date
16 March 1989
Recording venue
St Barnabas's Church, North Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Recording engineer
Hyperion usage
  1. Favourite Classics (CDH55001)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: May 1999
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
  2. Favourite Classics (CDH88030)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: September 1989
    Deletion date: May 1999
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Superseded by CDH55001
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