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Frederick William II of Prussia has to his credit the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, a remarkable series of right-hand and left-hand wives that Casanova might have envied, and a kingdom ruinously bankrupt. Mozart dedicated to him, another cellist, his last three string quartets; inventive rumour had it that Beethoven might have been one of his natural sons; he played in his presence the Op 5 cello sonatas and dedicated to him his variations for the same combination on 'See the conquering Hero' (wishful thinking in this context). But it was Boccherini who had secured the coveted appointment as chamber composer to the future Prussian king in 1786, and the result was a final group of symphonies specifically designed for the splendid Berlin orchestra. Like many composers, Boccherini gives of his best in minor mode, and the Minuet from the C minor symphony of 1788 has a telling intensity [listen -- track 3, 0:00-0:56]. The finale of Op 42, in an exuberant D major, gives this latterday Berlin orchestra every chance for maximum virtuosity and élan [listen -- track 15, 1:35-2:34].

Copyright © 24 September 2003 Robert Anderson, London UK


Boccherini Symphonies

HMA 1951597 DDD Stereo REISSUE 78'26" 1997, 2003 harmonia mundi sa

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

Symphony No 26 Op 41 G519 (1788); Symphony No 19 Op 35 G513 (1782); Symphony No 8 Op 12 G508 (1771); Symphony No 27 Op 42 G520 (1789)



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