Work: Musica notturna di Madrid
About This Work
This quintet is both very much a characteristic piece of Boccherini and at the same time not a characteristic piece. Its title is usually translated as "Night Music in the Streets of Madrid," but it really is a musical representation of
life in Madrid's evenings in Boccherini's day, quoting music of the locals and also replicating other sounds with music. He often incorporated Spanish musical idioms into his own music, using the fandango and other dances in other works, and he even composed musical paintings, such as in the String Quintet, Op. 11, No. 6 "The Aviary." Here, each movement of this quintet represents a different scene, and none really have a traditional Classical-period form, as his other quintets do. The work is so unusual that Boccherini himself did not want it published, feeling that it would be incomprehensible to anyone not familiar with the city life of Madrid. The opening movement is in two sections: "Ave Maria" and "Minuetto di Ciechi." The "Ave Maria" opens with quiet pizzicatos representing the tolling of church bells, followed by a monotone monolog by the first violin. The"Minuet of the Blind" features the cellos being strummed like guitars to accompany the street singer. The second movement, "Rosario," is a prayerful duet, punctuated by faint, bell-like pizzicatos from the second violin. This is interrupted by a fanfare-like passage for the full quintet. The prayer is restated, the first cello joining in with a more ornamented line, almost like the ancient florid organum. The fanfare is heard again, followed by the final verse of the prayer. The third movement is known by several names: "Passacalle," "Los Manolos," or "I spagnoli si divertono per la strade." It again uses the instruments as guitars to accompany the animated dance melody of the cello. It also features an interlude with one of the violins playing the harmony theme in arpeggios. The interlude is repeated at the end of the movement, fading off into the distance, and followed by the violin monolog heard in the first movement. Finally, the night watch is heard passing by, a light march over a drone that also fades away as they go on their rounds. The melody of this movement was re-used by Boccherini for variations in the Guitar Quintet, G. 453. The entire quintet was orchestrated in 1903 by Max Schoenherr.
-- Patsy Morita, All Music Guide
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