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It was as a composer-cellist that Boccherini chiefly functioned for the Don. Two-cello quintets and string quartets poured from him, but for grander occasions there were symphonies of a robust charm that had every late-eighteenth-century ingredient except Haydn's daring and bubbling originality. The Don's orchestra was smaller than in Prussia, with alternating flutes and oboes presumably in the hands of the same flunkeys. If this Berlin orchestra, probably directed from the harpsichord, does not quite relax into the sensuous warmth that surrounded Boccherini in Spain, there is no doubt of the players' accomplishment [listen -- track 6, 0:37-1:26]. And there is no questioning the virile energy that launches the A major symphony and enchantingly curbs itself for the second tune listen -- track 8, 0:52-1:26].

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Copyright © 24 September 2003 Robert Anderson, London UK


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