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Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1804)
Five Sonatas for Violoncello
Sebastian Comberti, violoncello
Elizabeth Kenny, archilute/guitar
Ruth Alford, violoncello
Rec: September 2000, All Saints Church, London.

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Luigi Boccherini had a busy life - he was born into a talented musical family, and at the age of only 21 was granted a post at the Chapel of the Grand Council in Lucca, his native town. He composed a great deal of music, in addition to playing, and some large-scale choral works date from this period. He later travelled a great deal, both to Paris, where he met with a certain amount of success, and later to Spain, where he would die.

The 5 sonatas on this recording were all written as showpieces. These were the kind of works Boccherini played when on tour, to show off his talents both as composer and musician. While there are no scores of these works in Boccherini's hand, it is widely accepted that they are indeed by him, and that they were written between the age of 14 and 25.

These works are indeed virtuoso showpieces. The solo cello is accompanied by a plucked instrument (archilute or guitar) and a second cello; these two instruments make up a small continuo group. This gives a unique, intimate sound. This is music for pleasure, rhythmically-accented music, with hum-along melodies. There is no introspection here, simply enjoyable chamber music that is catchy and addictive. From the long, almost baroque, allegro of the G minor sonata, with its expressive melodies, to the moving largo of the E flat sonata, which features a greater presence of the second cello, to the rhythmic allegro militare of the G major sonata, this music is a delight to the ears.

Cellist Comberti has an excellent tone, and clearly has mastered this music. His performance is fine, as are the performances of the two musicians accompanying him.

An excellent recording of some very intimate and highly melodic music. Boccherini's cello sonatas deserved to be discovered by all those who enjoy post-baroque music.

Kirk McElhearn


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