... from the 110 known string quintets by Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805), to be performed successfully on modern instruments. Cellist Richard Lester, performing the virtuosic second cello part that Boccherini undoubtedly composed for himself, has solid "historically informed" credentials; he's performed with Norrington, Harnoncourt, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He's also recorded a CD of Boccherini sonatas on a baroque cello. Even so, I wouldn't cut him any slack if he didn't play these never-before-recorded quintets with an authentic understanding of 18th C taste and 18th C temper. If he has chosen to play with the Vanbrugh Quartet, it's because they play with fine sensibilities. As I said, these quintets 'sit' well on modern instruments, not requiring much in the way of double stops or of playing the cello stratospherically into the G clef, the region of 'perpetual snows'. Instead they demand robust phrasing, ripe fullness of sonority, and rhythmic zest. To my ears, they sound more maturely 'classical', less rococo, than quartets by Haydn of the same years. But however you choose to label them, they're splendid music, splendidly played.
There are two earlier reviews here, written years apart, Both are quite enthusiastic, remarkably ill-informed about Boccherini, and slightly condescending to a composer who ranks right alongside Haydn and Mozart among the "greats" of the 18th Century. That's been the pattern until recently, but now you'll find a rich selection of Boccherini recordings available, especially the quintets. The very best are by Ensemble 415, La Magnifica Comunitá, and Europa Galante, all on period instruments. If you've never heard Boccherini, start with those ensembles, but don't slight this Volume 2 performance by Lester and the Vanbrughs, or for that matter, their Volume 1. Good is good.