BOCCHERINI MADRID – Ophélie Gallard, cello and direction/ Rolf Lislevand, guitar/ Sandrine Piau, soprano/ Pulcinella chamber music group – Naive DualDisc

by | Feb 12, 2008 | CD+DVD | 0 comments

BOCCHERINI MADRID – Ophélie Gallard, cello and direction/ Rolf Lislevand, guitar/ Sandrine Piau, soprano/ Pulcinella chamber music group. CD: some of Boccherini’s crowd pleasers (see below); DVD: “Two Documentaries on the Music of Boccherini.” Naïve AM 126. 65 minutes (CD); 46 minutes (DVD).*** ½:
This dual disc set, called Boccherini Madrid, starts off with this lightning bolt: the highly engaging Fandango in D Major from the Guitar Quintet, G448. Always a crowd pleaser, this rendition is so high-spirited that it’s hard to imagine the performers not having a great time making it. Made famous by guitarist Julian Bream back in the sixties, the fandango features lively dance melodies, brusque guitar chords and ear-catching glissandos on the cello. It’s even humorous – a feature that this ensemble picks up on better than Bream’s did those many years ago.
The two concerti for cello and orchestra—he composed an even dozen—are both stately and sprightly, two moods that can easily coexist in a Boccherini concerto. Particularly in G483 Gallard’s cello collaborates seamlessly with the other strings, never grabbing the spotlight from the ensemble players. Even in the forlorn Andante it rarely shows off, except perhaps in one brief cadenza. Most of the time, it simply weaves its skein of melody into the overall musical fabric. The G major concerto (G480) strikes a sunnier, more southern attitude. It is good natured and eager to please, like a serenading lover. Not for long, though. The Adagio has a touch of Schubert to it, an impression not missed by Gallard when interviewed on the DVD. While this piece does not plunge into the same stream of romantic angst as Franz’s double cello quintet, it veers close to its edge.
The aria accademica, “Se d’un amor tiranno,” is another tasty composition. Sung by soprano Sandrine Piau and played by Gallard, it is worthy of many listenings. With its scalar runs, spectacular trills, and coloratura effects, it could easily be mistaken for a Mozart aria. Cue this one up for friends. Such a pity there’s not more of Piau on this disc. What a musician!
Louise Narboni produced the two 23 min. documentaries on the DVD, Parfums de Madrid and Neiges Eternelles. Why there are two of them instead of one is beyond me. They cover essentially the same material: the ensemble practicing the pieces that appear on the disc, as well as a few other Boccherini tunes. The cameraman is creative, but some of his effects, like filming mirrored reflections, seem callow. A snippet of the gorgeous soprano Magali Léger performing Boccherini’s Stabat Mater is way too short. A longer one of Piau performing “Se d’un amor tiranno” shows the immense effort she goes through. Her neck tendons bulge like a weightlifter’s muscles. Gallard, when interviewed, states facts both interesting and mundane, about Boccherini. (“He had a very playful, pleasant, festive side.”) I’m glad the DVD was included, but you need watch it only once. The music is the thing.

Fandango in D Major
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, G483
Aria Accademica ‘Se D’un Amor Tiranno’
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, G480

— Peter Bates

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