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Before Boccherini settled into the life of a composer he was a virtuoso cellist, and it was during his employment in the court of King Carlos III that he started writing cello quintets for himself to perform with the quartet already in residence. The combination of quintet with two cellos freed one of them from the obligation to provide the bass line, so Boccherini was able to exploit the instrument's full range and write for an ensemble of five soloists. He was able to further develop this sound when later employed by the cello-playing Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, where his quintets with two cellos were especially welcomed. And so were written a magnificent series of works combining lively, robust passages with elegant, suave melodic writing, and passionate driving rhythm with sweet seductive passages, all underpinned by rich five-part harmony.
It should be noted that track three of this disc is the 'Boccherini Minuet' in its original guise. Now in its sixteenth year, the RTE Vanbrugh Quartet is firmly established as one of Europe's most successful string quartets, and on this disc they are joined by Richard Lester, one of Britain's most outstanding cellists, co-principal cellist of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and member of The Florestan Trio.