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Boccherini: String Sextets / Seiler, Juda, Walch, Poppen, Dickel, Lester, Penny

Boccherini / Seiler / Juda / Walch / Poppen
Release Date: 11/15/2011 
Label:  Phoenix Edition   Catalog #: 469  
Composer:  Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Mayumi SeilerSilvia WalchDiemut PoppenRichard Lester,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In sum, this is a must-have album for all lovers of beautiful music.

As the date makes clear, these are oldish recordings, part of a series of five double-discs reissued in striking covers - paintings by William Oxer - by Austrian label Phoenix, following their recent C.P.E. Bach Edition. The CDs were originally released separately in 1992 by Capriccio in time for the 250th anniversary of Boccherini's birth; the label then re-issued them as a double-disc set in 2002. Three years later they appeared again, alongside numerous other Quartets and Quintets, in the label's 10-disc boxed set commemorating the 200th anniversary of Boccherini's death.

The first disc showcases four of Boccherini's six String
Read more Sextets, among his finest works, and among the finest - and earliest - of the genre. If ever proof was needed that Boccherini was no poor country cousin to his contemporary celebrities, Haydn and Mozart, it can be found here in these miraculously inventive, sonorous works, beautifully played by the three pairs of soloists. Boccherini delightfully blends dignity, pensiveness, ebullience and wit. The pauses in the finale of op.23 no.6 are very funny, straight out of Haydn's Guide to Keeping Audiences on their Toes. Why it took eighty years for Brahms's op.18 to make the string sextet popular is one of the great mysteries of the 19th century.

These were the first recordings of the Sextets, and astonishingly there still seems to be no complete recording available. For a complete set of op.23, the listener must turn to the excellent Ensemble 415, who recorded nos. 1, 2 and 5 for Harmonia Mundi, released about a year after the original Capriccio (HMC 901478).

The very short playing time of the second CD can be overlooked for the quality of the music it does contain. Here are the 'Opera con Tituli' ('Works with Titles') of the rather confusing cover splash: not Sextets with titles, but two Quintets, a Quartet and a Duo. Boccherini's bell-evoking introduction to his incredible G.324 Quintet was unprecedented in its modernity, and the work continues in similar vein, a still freshly imaginative, Biberian tour de force of colour, effect and atmosphere - enhanced all the more by Boccherini's scoring for two cellos - that evokes 'La Musica Notturna delle Strade di Madrid', played with considerable elegance and responsiveness by the soloists. How absurd of Boccherini to suppose that "Outside Spain this piece is totally useless and even ridiculous"!

The remaining three beautifully-proportioned works, all lyrical masterpieces showing also a more reflective, wistful Boccherini, only underscore the fact that this is a composer of considerable genius in his prime, banished to musical purgatory on the ill-informed say-so of early and mid 20th century critics. Boccherini's imitation of a jew's harp in the final Quintet betokens a striking originality that deserves to be remembered for so much more than the "celebrated minuet".

Alas, no biographical information on the sterling performers - not even a photo - is provided in the German-English booklet. Of the seven soloists, strangely only four are named on the front cover. Otherwise notes are fairly informative, if scant with regard to the Sextets. Sound quality is very good - bettering many recent recordings - and the editing joins that cropped up regularly in the volume of Symphonies ( PE460), are here nowhere to be heard.

In sum, this is a must-have album for all lovers of beautiful music.

-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Duet for 2 Violins in E flat major, G 62 "La bona notte" by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Mayumi Seiler (Violin), Silvia Walch (Violin)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1766 
Date of Recording: 2/1993 
Venue:  Sender Freies Berlin, Germany 
Length: 13 Minutes 27 Secs. 
2.
Quartet for Strings in G major, Op. 44 no 4/G 223 "La Tiranna" by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Mayumi Seiler (Violin), Silvia Walch (Violin), Diemut Poppen (Viola),
Richard Lester (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1792; Spain 
Date of Recording: 2/1993 
Venue:  Sender Freies Berlin, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 17 Secs. 
3.
Quintet for 2 Violins, Viola and 2 Cellos in C major, Op. 30 no 6/G 324 "Musica notturna di Madrid" by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Mayumi Seiler (Violin), Silvia Walch (Violin), Diemut Poppen (Viola),
Richard Lester (Cello), Howard Penny (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1780; Spain 
Date of Recording: 2/1993 
Venue:  Sender Freies Berlin, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 52 Secs. 
4.
Quintet for 2 Violins, Viola and 2 Cellos in F major, Op. 36 no 6/G 336 by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Mayumi Seiler (Violin), Silvia Walch (Violin), Diemut Poppen (Viola),
Richard Lester (Cello), Howard Penny (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784-1786; Spain 
Date of Recording: 2/1993 
Venue:  Sender Freies Berlin, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 42 Secs. 
5.
Sextet for Strings in F minor, Op. 23 no 4/G 457 by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Mayumi Seiler (Violin), Diemut Poppen (Viola), Richard Lester (Cello),
Howard Penny (Cello), Iris Juda (Violin)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1776; Spain 
6.
Sextet for Strings in E flat major, Op. 23 no 1/G 454 by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Werner Dickel (Violin), Howard Penny (Cello), Richard Lester (Cello),
Diemut Poppen (Viola), Mayumi Seiler (Violin), Iris Juda (Violin)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1776; Spain 
7.
Sextet for Strings in F major, Op. 23 no 6/G 459 by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Iris Juda (Violin), Mayumi Seiler (Violin), Diemut Poppen (Viola),
Richard Lester (Cello), Howard Penny (Cello)
8.
Sextet for Strings in E major, Op. 23 no 3/G 456 by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Werner Dickel (Violin), Howard Penny (Cello), Richard Lester (Cello),
Diemut Poppen (Viola), Mayumi Seiler (Violin), Iris Juda (Violin)

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