Knowing violinist Fabio Biondi and his Europa Galante ensemble from a number of previous recordings, I rather expected this outing of Boccherini string quintets to be extremely fast paced and perhaps lacking in charm. Wrong. Biondi does favor quick tempos, to be sure, but they are sprightly and light and never lose touch with the essential sweetness of Boccherini's music. I was favorably impressed by all three of the works for violin, viola, and cello presented here, all done on period instruments or facsimiles.
The four compositions represented are the Quintets Nos. 1, 4, and 6, Op. 25, and the Minuet from Quintet No. 5, Op. 11. The last work is, of course, Boccherini's most famous single piece of music, anthologized in every collection of Baroque music ever made, and recorded in every imaginable combination of instruments. In its original quintet version and played on period instruments, it is as fresh and new as one could hope for. I was also impressed by the Largo of No. 6, sounding for all the world like a tango, a musical form not yet invented.
Virgin's sound is well defined yet smoothly rounded, very natural, if lacking in the last degree of sparkle. It's recorded a bit forward, too, but not so much that it appears overly analytical. It's all very listenable.
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|Article Type:||Sound Recording Review|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2001|
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