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String Quintet in G minor, G351
Op 37 No 13

'Boccherini: Cello Quintets, Vol. 1' (CDA67287)
Boccherini: Cello Quintets, Vol. 1
Movement 1: Moderato
Movement 2: Minuetto – Trio – Minuetto da capo
Movement 3: Larghetto amoroso
Movement 4: Finale: Allegro ma non presto

String Quintet in G minor, G351
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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Details for CDA67287 track 9
Recording date
16 March 2001
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Boccherini: Cello Quintets, Vol. 1 (CDA67287)
    Disc 1 Track 9
    Release date: January 2002
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