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Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)
String Trio Op. 6 No. 4 in F G92
String Trio Op. 6 No. 2 in E flat G90
String Trio Op. 6 No. 5 in G minor G93
String Trio Op. 6 No. 6 in C G94
The Lubotsky Trio (Mark Lubotsky, Katarina Andreasson (violins), Olga Dowbusch-Lubotsky (cello))
rec. 2016, Konserthus Írebro, Sweden

The Italian composer Luigi Boccherini was born in Lucca into a musical family. His father was a cellist. He first learnt music at his father’s side, and that probably gave the young Luigi his love for the cello. At a young age, he was sent to Rome for further study. After his studies he entered various posts before in 1770. He took a position in Spain at the court of Infante Luis Antonio, the younger brother of King Charles III. Here he flourished and soon became one of the most important figures in Spanish music of the period. During this period he would buy popular sheet music from northern Europe, especially that of Haydn, and he would use these pieces to colour his own music; that would earn him the nickname “Haydn’s wife”. His music was categorised by the gallant style, something he brought to the Spanish court. He was a victim of the Napoleonic wars. He found that his income was drastically cut. With the borders closed and his exit from Spain blocked, he died in relative poverty in Madrid.

“The String Trios Op. 6 (1769) are characterized by their high expressiveness, richness of melodic language, virtuosic brilliance and elegance. The sound of the two violins and cello in its plenitude often approaches to that of the quartet. Listening to the Boccherini’s masterpieces, it is impossible not to notice the indubitable impact of his music on the great Viennese classics, first of all on Mozart.” So writes Mark Lubotsky. Indeed that is all he writes concerning the music presented here. The booklet notes are lamentably poor concerning both composer and his music. Nowhere do they mentions the composer’s indebtedness to mainstream European music. Haydn is ever present here, a lot more so than in Boccherini’s other compositions, but there is also a hint of C. P. E. Bach. If anything, the Sting Trios Op. 6, rather than showing Boccherini’s influence on Mozart, show the northern European influence on the composer himself.

I have greatly enjoyed Brilliant Classics survey of Boccherini’s string quintets over the years and had high hopes for this recording. The playing is good enough, but it cannot compare to that of La Ritirata in their recording of the Op. 34 String Trios for Glossa (GCD 923105), a performance of perfection. Here the occasional slip in balance and overbright violin sound at times mar the performance. For example the violin in the opening of the E flat Trio can sound a little too forward, somewhat overshadowing the cello. This is a perfectly eversible recording, an introduction to the string trios of a much maligned composer. If, however, you want to buy just one recording, go for the Glossa recording.

The recorded sound is good if not the best. As mentioned, the booklet notes are sparse: three quarters of a page dedicated to the composer and his music compared to the six pages dedicated to the performers. A slight imbalance there!

Stuart Sillitoe



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