"[This disc] offers a slightly odd but still very enjoyable selection of Boccherini—timed, no doubt, for the 250th anniversary this year. The two symphonies are late works, the D major a single-movement piece of the Italian overture type, with a slow movement embedded, the C minor his most 'symphonic' work in the Viennese-classical sense of the term. Jeanne Lamon directs lively performances with this excellent Canadian group. The D major she takes rather quickly, producing that sense of tension that arises when music is pushed a little beyond its natural pace; but the effect is energetic and inspiriting (and it is marked con molto spirito). The Andantino is more relaxed, its colours happily realized. In the C minor work she presses theRead more minuet too much, I think (true, it's marked Allegro), for it to make its points properly, but the fine first movement is direct and unaffected, and its close symphonic argument comes across well, while the finale is splendidly fiery.
Anner Bylsma plays the two concertos, neither of them among the better known of Boccherini's, in characteristic fashion, dashing into the music with his usual sense of fresh discovery and uninhibited enthusiasm. Some might prefer more measured performances, but the intensity of his involvement does draw the listener in, and his bouncing rhythms show an infectious pleasure in the music. The odd rough moment is a modest price to pay. He takes both the slow movements very slowly, surprisingly so, for this runs against the grain of fashion, not to say informed opinion, in the early music world. That of the D major is however rapt in expression, with Bylsma's eloquent line (the phrases in rapid notes are thrown off like little sprigs of decoration) and Tafelmusik's soft and sensitive accompaniment. The C major is a less impressive piece and there must be some doubt about its complete authenticity, at least in this form (who ever heard of a concerto in C with a slow movement in D?); Bylsma contributes some curious, almost trumpet-like tone in the first movement, and plays an extremely odd cadenza.
In fact, the work I enjoyed most of all, and for which I shall treasure this CD in particular, is the Octet, one of a group of late chamber works for mixed combinations which haven't been, but should be, available on records. It is a charming and leisurely piece, exquisitely scored, with one of those seductive minuets bearing Boccherini's most personal stamp—exquisitely scored, gently witty, with a hint of nostalgia and pain lurking somewhere behind the notes. That, at any rate, is how I hear it, and I find it wholly beguiling."