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David Reynolds
American Record Guide, September 2019

The two string quartets are very enjoyable. The Sarasa Ensemble is splendid, bringing out the rhythmic vitality and melodic inventiveness of the various movements. I hadn’t heard Boccherini’s chamber music in a while, and I enjoyed making its acquaintance again.

The sound is excellent, with a lot of space around the instruments and Labelle’s voice. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Records International, May 2019

Boccherini chose the intimacy of a chamber music setting for his Stabat Mater, resulting in passionate music with power, depth and pathos. The expertly structured Quintet directly evokes the Stabat Mater in its themes. © 2019 Records International

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2019

For ever the pragmatist, Luigi Boccherini probably wrote the Stabat Mater for his wife—a famous soprano—together with some friends to form a string quintet. That was certainly unusual at the time, a Stabat Mater almost always scored for a vocal group together with an instrumental ensemble. How many times this new work from 1781 was performed is unclear, but in 1800 he revised it, enlarged it, and used multiple voices. In that later format it has found a place in the sacred repertoire through to the present day. The first version would have been inexpensive to perform, and showcased his wife in passages of virtuosity. Even in this earlier incarnation, it extended to eleven sections of around forty minutes in length, and is here performed by the Canadian-born, Dominique Labelle, a soprano in strong demand around the world, both in the opera house and concert hall. It certainly requires vocal stamina, but sits happily on her voice, her impeccable intonation as it extends to the outer limits of the soprano range. In that first performance Boccherini would probably have been one of the cellists, his affection for the string quintet format resulting in around 120 works. That she could generate so much memorable material was remarkable, and if the scores here do not plumb to any great depths of inspiration, they make for pleasing listening. Here played by members of the Sarasa Ensemble, it members coming from both sides of the Atlantic, with Massachusetts, in the United States, as their base camp. Tonal quality is pleasing and well balanced in both string works, but do be warned of a moment of high drama in the String Quintet’s third movement. Uncomplicated sound engineering. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

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