As Keith Pascoe tells us in his excellent notes, these works are all but forgotten and are, most probably, receiving their première recordings here. There are four quintets, each lasting some 20 minutes with the exception of the B minor which is a short two movement piece.
The music is definitely very enjoyable and highly invigorating although you would be hard pressed to find what could be termed as a masterpiece. The C Major is a fine work however and has a very beautiful 'Grave' movement that really plumbs the depths of emotion, evidently very strongly felt by the Vanbrugh Quartet.
I also enjoyed the G349 opus with an original Andante con moto heralding the work and with the Minuetto placed second, a very striking decision. The D Major is the more grandly conceived of the works presented here and contains what is arguable, the best musical fare and is a logical way to end the disc.
The Vanbrugh Quartet are definitely fine exponents of this idiom and after their previous foray into this repertoire, the dedicated Boccherini enthusiast will need no further prompting. However, this is also quartet playing of the highest order and with the mercurial Richard Lester joining the fray, the quintets take on a more memorable turn of phrase and are pleasant listening, if nothing else.
Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech