Commercially Available CDs

Luigi Boccherini: Quintets, Op. 11, Nos. 4-6

The Smithsonian Chamber Players (Marilyn McDonald & Jorrie Garrigue, violins; Anthony Martin, viola, Anner Bylsma & Kenneth Slowik, celli)

(originally issued 1991; re-released 2010)

Winner of the 1991 Premio Internazionale del Disco Antonio Vivaldi prize

“If God wanted to speak to man through music, he would do so through Haydn’s works; if, however, He wished to listen to music himself, He would choose the works of Boccherini.” So wrote the French violinist and composer Jean Baptiste Cartier in his 1798 anthology L’art du violon. Starting in 1818, the Parisian firm Janet et Cotelle began to issue a monumental collection of 93 Boccherini quintets for two violins, viola, and two celli. Later, Boccherini’s name surged into prominence when, beginning in Paris about 1874, a certain minuet—heard in the sample below—began to enjoy unprecedented popularity, evidenced in the myriad guises in which it was published, which ranged from simple piano transcriptions to arrangements for two mandolins, for accordion, for a cappella choir (with Latin text), and even for saxophone.

                                                                         —from Kenneth Slowik’s liner notes (© 1991)

Listen to the famous Minuet from the Quintet in A Major, Op. 11, No. 5

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Boccherini’s highly original musical structures, far above the ordinary, are ravishingly translated into sound in these interpretations, which are played on five Stradivarius instruments from the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, the United States National Museum. The playing of the Smithsonian Chamber Players is spirited and full of fantasy, with a rich palette of tonal colors, and made these pieces far exceed this listener’s expectations. A real discovery!

—FonoForum (Germany)
On this album: 

Luigi Boccherini (1743-1791)

[1]–[4] Quintet in A Major, Op. 11, No. 5
[5]–[8] Quintet in F Minor, Op. 11, No. 4
[9]–[11] Quintet in D Major, Op. 11, No. 6, detto L’ucceliera