The Andante con moto is (perhaps) an imagined reflection of Sanssouci, the palace of Friedrich Wilhelm II at Potsdam, near Berlin: a place Boccherini probably never visited. From 1786 he sent all his quintets with two cellos for the pleasure of the cellist-monarch and (one imagines) the Duport brothers who were celebrated cellists at the Prussian court. The Sturm und Drang elements of the Op 42 quintets, all written in 1789, are in evidence in this first movement where tension and prescient sadness are alternated with nostalgia for happier times. Processional music leads us into a room where a very formal reception is accompanied by a rather comical, buffoon-like minuet whose trio, in the stark key of A minor, depicts the greyness of a Goya sketch and the coldness of the larger rooms of a palace. It is not unusual for Boccherini to omit a slow movement and, as in this work, to place the minuet second. The Allegro assai which follows, takes us on a hair-raising joyride around the palace grounds and is followed by a rondeau where Boccherini delights us with his finesse, using the simple ingredients of a C major scale and revealing to us, as if he were the first to do so, what a marvellous invention it was. In the middle section high cellos and viola get the chance to display their technique in a tasteful Boccherinian manner, without any vulgar showmanship. This quintet was not published during Boccherini’s lifetime but later as Op 47 No 8 (ed. Pleyel, Paris) and Book 13 Op 47 No 71 (Janet et Cotelle, Paris).
from notes by Keith Pascoe © 2003