La Magnifica Comunità

Boccherini: String Quintets, Vol. 9

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A few of Luigi Boccherini's string quintets, for the unusual combination of two violins, viola, and two cellos, have become concert standards, but there's plenty more where those came from. The Italian Baroque ensemble La Magnifica Comunità has revived a whole series of them. Those here were composed in 1779 in the small Spanish town of Arenas after Boccherini earned himself temporary exile by dissing the Spanish king: asked to change a passage in a work he had written, he repeated it note for note instead. These works will sound familiar to listeners who've heard other Boccherini quintets written in Spain: they're bright, energetic, and bit lacking in memorable melodic content. Boccherini, a cellist himself, heavily exploits the second cello, and the opening Allegros have a rich, symphonic feel. The minuet, which may come second or third, is often the site of a certain type of ingratiating melody in which Boccherini specialized: an attractive little melodic figure is repeated several times and tends to become kind of an earworm. The performances are billed as being on original instruments, but it's not clear from aural evidence exactly what that indicates; they're technically fine but betray the group's usual Baroque surroundings a bit.

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