Boccherini: Cello Concertos Vol 1 / Hugh, Halstead, Et Al

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This is a winner of a disc, the first of a projected series covering all 12 of Boccherini’s cello concertos, beautifully performed on modern instruments but with concern for period practice and superbly recorded. One minor snag is a confusion over numbering. Naxos calls its first selection of works Nos. 1-4, whereas in Gramophone and on the Gramophone Database the new numbering above is used. What many collectors will be concerned about is the Boccherini Cello Concerto beloved of generations in Grutzmacher’s corrupt edition.

When many years ago I questioned Jacqueline du Pre about choosing it for her recording, she promptly justified herself, saying, ‘But the slow movement is so lovely.’ She was quite right, as her classic recording makes clear (EMI, 10/67), but that movement was transferred from another work, in fact No. 7 in G, one of the four works here. Tim Hugh’s dedicated account of this lovely G minor movement is a high spot of this issue, with rapt, hushed playing not just from the soloist but also from the excellent Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Anthony Halstead. It develops into a long cadenza, a sustained meditation lasting almost two minutes out of the six-and-a-half, and I should have liked to have it identified in the notes.

As it is, Hugh offers substantial cadenzas not just in the first movements of each work, but in slow movements and finales too, though none is as extended as the one in the G minor slow movement. Halstead, as a period specialist and a horn virtuoso as well as a conductor, matches his soloist in the dedication of these performances, clarifying textures (not least in the ripe horn parts, presumably played on natural instruments) and encouraging Hugh to choose speeds on the fast side, with easily flowing slow movements and outer movements which test the soloist’s virtuosity to the very limit, without sounding breathless.

The formula in all four works is similar, even though each has its individual delights, with strong, foursquare first movements, slow movements that sound rather Handelian and galloping finales in triple time. Not just for those who know only the old Grutzmacher concerto, all this will be a delightful discovery. And remember, there are two more issues to come.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [10/1999]


Product Description:


  • Catalog Number: 8553571


  • UPC: 730099457125


  • Label: Naxos


  • Composer: Luigi Boccherini


  • Conductor: Anthony Halstead


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Scottish Chamber Orchestra


  • Performer: Timothy Hugh



Works:


  1. Concerto for Cello in C major, G 477

    Composer: Luigi Boccherini

    Ensemble: Scottish Chamber Orchestra

    Performer: Timothy Hugh (Cello)

    Conductor: Anthony Halstead


  2. Concerto for Cello in D major, G 479

    Composer: Luigi Boccherini

    Ensemble: Scottish Chamber Orchestra

    Performer: Timothy Hugh (Cello)

    Conductor: Anthony Halstead


  3. Concerto for Cello in G major, G 480

    Composer: Luigi Boccherini

    Ensemble: Scottish Chamber Orchestra

    Performer: Timothy Hugh (Cello)

    Conductor: Anthony Halstead


  4. Concerto for Cello in C major, G 481

    Composer: Luigi Boccherini

    Ensemble: Scottish Chamber Orchestra

    Performer: Timothy Hugh (Cello)

    Conductor: Anthony Halstead