Boccherini: Complete Violin Sonatas, Vol. 1

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The start of a major new series on Brilliant Classics – historically informed accounts of the violin sonatas by a Classical-era master of Rococo charm...

The start of a major new series on Brilliant Classics – historically informed accounts of the violin sonatas by a Classical-era master of Rococo charm and invention.

Luigi Boccherini, still in his mid-20s, dedicated his Op. 5 violin sonatas to the Parisian keyboard soloist Mme. Brillon de Jouy. As a result, the keyboard is more than an equal partner with the most showy writing, in the style of the sonatas ‘for piano and violin’ by both Mozart and Beethoven. Boccherini himself thought well enough of these works to draw from them many times throughout his career. Movements from these sonatas appear in reworked guises in other chamber works and symphonies.

The other sonatas here came into being later in Boccherini’s career as arrangements of other works by Boccherini made by publishers eager to capitalise on the fame and industry of a composer renowned throughout Europe for his attractive melodic fluency Several of them are transcriptions of his cello sonatas, though whether the arrangements were made by the composer himself remains a mystery. Other sonatas were skilfully put together from his many string quintets; they made Boccherini’s music accessible to those who could not perform the ensemble works in their original versions. Brilliant Classics has produced the largest ever collection of Boccherini’s works on record with its 37CD edition, which won stunning reviews in the international press. This new set of violin sonatas becomes a vital addition to the Boccherini library of collectors. Each new album by the period-instrument violinist Igor Ruhadze has likewise attracted critical praise, not least in his regular partnership with the Russian-born pianist and harpsichordist Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya. Their recording of F.Geminiani Violin Sonatas op.1 received warm critical praise.


The Six Sonatas Op. 5 for harpsichord with violin accompaniment, published in Paris in 1768, constitute the only authentic examples intended by Boccherini for this instrumental combination. The keyboard style, highly idiomatic with its scales, triplets and broken octaves, the pre-Romantic atmosphere of the slow movements as well as the quality of the melodic and rhythmic elements, excited Europe. If Boccherini did not entrust anything else to this instrumental combination, then editors remedied this by generating several transcriptions. It is this unprecedented wealth that Brilliant intends to explore here – other volumes are expected.

The pianoforte of Alexandra Nepomnyaschchaya does not dethrone, in Opus 5, that of Franco Angeleri (Tactus, 1990) who followed the autograph manuscript of Parma in the company of Enrico Gatti. The chiseled refinement like the incisive dynamic of the touch, the expressive restraint of the violin expressed in the two Italians an unequaled feeling and sharing. Among the newcomers, the seduction is more demonstrative, the contrasts more accentuated, the sensuality and the feeling more showy, as in the Allegro maestoso of No. 6 or the Allegro molto of No. 5. Above all, the Andante of No. 4, just whispered by Angeleri and Gatti, gains an indescribable beauty.

The movements of trios, quartets and quintets reduced by Mlle. Le Jeune (Vénier, Paris, 1782) are a happy surprise. The distribution of voices is skillful. The infinite delicacy of the Andante sostenuto of Sonata G 51 is truly worthy of Boccherini. Certainly, the Amoroso of the G 52 and the Allegro con spirito of the G 53 have charm. No repeat being forgotten, some movements seem a little long. Sometimes a simple foil to the pianoforte, Igor Ruhadze takes his revenge in the Six Sonatas for violin and basso continuo (La Chevardière, Paris, 1775). The Sonatas for cello and basso continuo G 20 are the most emblematic of Boccherini. It is magnificent in places (Largo de la no 5) but above all exotic (no 6, after the famous G 4). The violin, with sober and clear diction, is supported by a balanced bass entrusted to the cello continuo and the harpsichord. Looking forward to the sequel!

-- Diapason

Product Description:

  • Release Date: April 21, 2023

  • UPC: 5028421966120

  • Catalog Number: BRI96612

  • Label: Brilliant Classics

  • Number of Discs: 5

  • Period: Classical

  • Composer: Luigi Boccherini

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Ensemble Violini Capricciosi

  • Performer: Igor Ruhadze, Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya, Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde, Alexandr Puliaev


  1. Sonatas for Violin with Piano or Basso continuo (21)

    Composer: Luigi Boccherini

    Ensemble: Ensemble Violini Capricciosi

    Performer: Igor Ruhadze (Violin), Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya (Fortepiano)