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String Quintet in D major, G353
Op 43 No 2

'Boccherini: Cello Quintets, Vol. 2' (CDA67383)
Boccherini: Cello Quintets, Vol. 2
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Movement 1: Allegro moderato
Movement 2: Minuetto: Con un poco di moto
Movement 3: Andante larghetto
Movement 4: Rondeau: Allegro

String Quintet in D major, G353
This quintet, written in 1790, opens with the three chords Boccherini used in the sinfonia of his oratorio Gioas Re di Giuda, written in the very fruitful year of 1765 when he also wrote three large-scale instrumental-choral works. In this oratorio Boccherini, aged twenty-one, revealed an innate mastery of the large-scale and, while prodigiously difficult for the singers, the music is of such quality that it could be mistaken for Mozart. Sadly, it has fallen into almost complete neglect.

Three of the four movements of this quintet are in the key of D major while the Andante larghetto is in D minor. The style of the Allegro moderato is a mixture of Mannheim and Italian opera, possibly catering to the taste at the court in Berlin. It is again processional music, but with bombastic operatic flourishes. The slow movement, Andante larghetto, is a good example of Boccherini’s using simple material and creating a musical ‘still-life’ or here, perhaps more accurately, a ‘nature morte’. The lamenting cante jondo atmosphere and soulful semitic music of Spain are never far from the surface. The obsessive use in D minor of the dominant-tonic chord progression takes us unmistakeably to Spain and the fandango, into a Moorish-Jewish exotisme: a leitmotif throughout much of Boccherini’s music. This motif continues into the final movement which is a typical Boccherini rondeau giving all the players a chance to shine. This work has never been published.

from notes by Keith Pascoe © 2003

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