Notes and Editorial Reviews
This disc is another volley in Europa Galante's ongoing effort to convince the sometimes-dubious listening public that Boccherini's music truly is worth lingering over. And as with their previous entries in this exploration, the delightful results prove them right. The slightly acerbic wit and crisp crackle with which violinist Fabio Biondi and his band (including the superb guitarist Giangiacomo Pinardi) imbue these works makes them snap with energy--a far cry from a vision of Boccherini the Boring.
Sometimes that power is subtle, such as in the flirty little kicks with which these players dig into the bowing articulations of the D major Guitar Quintet's Allegro maestoso. Sometimes that might is more brazenly on show,
such as in the fiery and lush Fandango movement that closes the same piece. (The sensual Spanish spirit of this Fandango is only enhanced by the addition of castanets, played by Mauro Occhoniero.)
The Guitar Quintet in C Major "La ritirata di Madrid" began its life as a transcribed piano quintet, to which Boccherini tacked on a finale from one of his cello quintets. (Okay, so maybe Boccherini didn't always strive for originality.) As the work's title suggests, this last movement is meant as a series of aural postcards of nighttime Madrid. Although some of the specific associations that the composer intended may be lost on a contemporary artist, the piece's lithe beauty still enchants, and the martial tone of the Finale section depicting a regiment of soldiers is majestic.
Rounding out this collection is a three-movement string quartet that is much more enigmatic and ambiguous in tone and mood, and the Europa Galante players suitably cast their playing in far darker colors. Yet their precision and graceful phrasing remain intact: just listen to the delicious dips they take when playing the descending seconds that open the first movement, or notice the carefully balanced sound they produce in the Adagio, or the nimble ease with which they dance through the concluding Minuetto. The sound is clear, crisp, and vivid. This is an excellent addition to the Biondi and Europa Galante discographies, and a real treat for chamber music aficionados. [4/22/2004]
--Anastasia Tsioulcas, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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