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Luigi Boccherini

Luigi Boccherini

(1743 - 1805)

The sense of lyricism and of proportion in the works of the Italian composer, Luigi Boccherini is often amazing, as was his creativity and productivity. Though he was born in Lucca to a musical family, by the time he was 14 he travelled to Vienna to play in an orchestra there, and it was there that he first encountered the music of Franz Joseph Haydn, who was Boccherini's senior by nearly 19 years. He returned often to play in Italy, but by the age 25 his fame was growing and was invited to Paris to appear as a cello soloist at a Concert Spirituel. He was hailed as a great virtuoso, and his works were extremely popular and widely published. The next year he received an invitiation to become chamber composer to the court of the Infante Luis in Madrid. Boccherini stayed until 1786, the year the Infante died, and subsequently took a position with Freidrich Wilhelm II of Prussia. But by 1797 he was back in Madrid and three years later Boccherini secured the patronage of Napoleon's brother, Lucien Bonaparte, then the French ambassador to Madrid. He held this position until he died.

Boccherini admired Haydn greatly, and was strongly influenced by Haydn's style. This influence was so obvious that music lovers of the day fondly proclaimed "Boccherini is the wife of Haydn". During his long career, he wrote an impressive number of large-scale chamber works. His output includes 91 string quartets (Haydn wrote 83), an astonishing 137 quintets for various combinations of strings, as well as multitudes of trios, keyboard quintets, sextets, sonatas and other works. As a virtuoso cellist, he wrote a dozen excellent concertos for his instrument that are too little known today. Boccherini's 30 symphonies suffer in comparison with Haydn's and Mozart's, as do everyones from this period, but they are always pleasant, inviting, and sometimes surprisingly inventive. ~L.D. Lampson

Recommended Recordings

Concertos for Cello

EBS 6058
12 Cello Concertos (complete) with Leo, C.P.E. Bach & Haydn/Brilliant Classics 92198
Julius Berger (cello), Vladislav Czarnecki/Southwest German Chamber Orchestra, Pforzheim
12 Cello Concertos (complete)/EBS 6058
Julius Berger (cello), Vladislav Czarnecki/Southwest German Chamber Orchestra, Pforzheim
4 Cello Concertos #1-4/Naxos 8.553571
Tim Hugh (cello), Anthony Halstead/Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Naxos 8.557589
4 Cello Concertos #5-8/Naxos 8.553572
Tim Hugh (cello), Anthony Halstead/Scottish Chamber Orchestra
4 Cello Concertos #9-12/Naxos 8.557589
Raphael Wallfisch (cello), Nicholas Ward/Northern Chamber Orchestra
4 Cello Concertos #4, 6-8/Teldec Das Alte Werk 903177624-2
Anner Bylsma (cello), Jaap Schröder/Concerto Amsterdam
2 Cello Concertos & 3 Cello Sonatas/Virgin 562202-2
Steven Isselis (cello), Maggie Cole (harpsichord), Juha Kangas/Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra

Core Repertoire - Start Here! Quintets for Guitar & Strings (3, Core Repertoire - Start Here!4, 5, 6)

Philips 438769-2
8 Guitar Quintets (complete)/Philips 438769-2
Pepe Romero (guitar)/Academy Chamber Ensemble

8 Guitar Quintets (complete)/Brilliant 92892
Eros Roselli (guitar)/La Magnifica Comunità

3 Guitar Quintets #1-3/Harmonia Mundi HCX3957039
Richard Savino (guitar)/Artaria Quartet

3 Guitar Quintets #4-6/Harmonia Mundi HCX3957026
Richard Savino (guitar)/Artaria Quartet

Brilliant 92892
2 Guitar Quintets #4 "Fandango" & #9 "La ritirada di Madrid"/Virgin Veritas 545607-2
Europa Galante

Quintets for Strings / Quintets for Piano & Strings

Hyperion CDA67287
3 Cello Quintets Op. 42 #1, G. 348; Op. 42 #4, G. 351; Op. 11 #5 "dello L'ucceliera", G. 275/Hyperion CDA67287
Richard Lester (cello), The Vanbrugh Quartet

4 Cello Quintets Op. 28 #4, G. 310; 42 #2, G. 349; Op. 42 #3, G. 350; Op. 43 #2, G. 353/Hyperion CDA67383
Smithsonian Chamber Players

3 Cello Quintets Op. 11 #5, G. 275; Op. 25 #1, G. 295; Op. 25 #4, G. 298; Op. 25 #6, G. 300/Virgin VC545421-2
Europa Galante

Cello Quintets (complete)/Brilliant Classics
La Magnifica Comunità
Brilliant 93346

3 Cello Quintets Op. 39/Harmonia Mundi HMC901334
Ensemble 415

12 Piano Quintets (complete) Op. 56 & Op. 57, G. 407-418/Brilliant 92890
Virgin VC545421-2
Hario Gregoletto (fortepiano), Ensemble Claviere

4 Piano Quintets Op. 57 #6, G. 418; Op. 57 #3, G. 415; Op. 56 #6, G. 412; Op. 56 #4, G. 410/RCA Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 5472-77448-2
Andreas Staier (fortepiano), Les Adieux

3 Piano Quintets Op. 56 #5, G. 411; Op. 56 #2, G. 408; Op. 56 #1, G. 407/Astrée E8518
Patrick Cohen (fortepiano), Quatuor Mosaïques


CPO 999401-2
28 Symphonies/CPO 999401-2
Johannes Goritzki/German Chamber Academy Of Neuss

4 Symphonies, G. 490, 506, 511 & 512/Harmonia Mundi HMA1901291
Hyperion CDA66903
Chiara Banchini/Ensemble 415

6 Symphonies Op. 35, G. 509-514/Hyperion CDA66903
Ross Pople/London Festival Orchestra

4 Symphonies Op. 37 #1,3,4 G. 515, 517, 518 & Op. 42, G. 520/Hyperion CDA66904
Ross Pople/London Festival Orchestra