The vast output of Italo-Spanish composer Luigi Boccherini is still insufficiently represented on recordings, and the Brilliant label's ongoing series devoted to Boccherini's string quintets, of which this is the eighth volume, is most welcome. Boccherini was a brilliant melodist with an apt ear for local flavor, and his music developed far enough away from Vienna that it was untouched by influences from there. This budget release, an original from reissue specialist Brilliant, offers three full-scale specimens of Boccherini's favored medium, the string quintet, in which he deployed the distinctive combination of two violins, viola, cello, and double bass; all are from the same group, published as Op. 39. The quintets have a full sound capable of generating great variety that the Italian ensemble La Magnifica Comunità attacks with gusto on this album. The group is clearly attuned to Boccherini's style, and there are many nice moments tied to individual effects: the gorgeous melody in the slow movement of the String Quintet in F major, G. 338, the twangy guitar effects in the finale of the String Quintet in D major, G. 339. The problem here is that there's a bit too much gusto, especially given the miserable sound engineering. A Paduan church magnifies every bit of nonmusical noise in a way that would never have occurred at the Spanish court for which this music was written, and the attacks in the active cello and bass lines in the music come out sounding exaggerated when perhaps they really weren't. This album offers creditable readings for those interested in Boccherini, but the album that draws in new Boccherini listeners with its sheer beauty still awaits release.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Quintet in B flat, G337|
|Quintet in F, G338|
|Quintet in D, G339|