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MusicWeb International, April 2012

The first disc showcases four of Boccherini’s six Divertimenti. These works go beyond the divertimenti of Mozart and Haydn: they possess the same depth and spirit of imagination as Boccherini’s String Sextets (available on PE469), which were written slightly later. Both usually have four movements, two fast and two slow, with a third-movement minuet. The flute effectively replaces one of the two Sextet violas and adds a higher tone colour to the ensemble, very delicately blended, whereas the double bass adds even greater richness to the lower registers. As in the Sextets, Boccherini effortlessly fashions endless melodic invention and stylish, witty virtuosity into elegant, lyrical masterpieces.

Six more musical gems can be found on CD2 in the form of the op.55 Oboe Quintets. These were written a quarter of a century later, but are lighter, brighter works than the Divertimenti. All but one are in two movements only, typically a short minuet finale preceded by a longer fast or slow movement. The oboe may be replaced by a flute, and the set has been recorded at least once as such (review).

Sound quality is very good, the first CD in particular…

Boccherini is a composer of considerable originality who was banished to musical purgatory on the ill-informed say-so of early and mid-20th century critics. He deserves to be remembered for so much more than the “celebrated minuet”, and this double-disc is a great place for anyone to start an exploration of his magnificent oeuvre. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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