When one thinks of the Classical era, it is usually the Viennese School – namely Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven – which springs to mind. There were, however, a great many other talented composers around during this time who achieved much popularity in their day. Luigi Boccherini, who enjoyed a wealth of patronage as well as a prolific output, is one such example.
Boccherini produced a large amount of chamber music in particular, undoubtedly influenced by his virtuosity as a cellist. Written when he was only 17 years old, many of Op.1’s trios exhibit what was to become one of the composer’s best-known trademarks: a melodic figure comprising the tonic, mediant and dominant notes of the common chord – an quasi-arpeggio, in other words. With the cello accorded equal status in these lively, charming works, the trios remain firmly rooted in the Classical era despite their first movements’ formal tendency to the old Baroque suite.
Also the creator of some 30 symphonies during his lifetime, Boccherini composed the six within Op.35 in 1782, while in the service of Don Luis – the brother of King Charles III – in Madrid. These delightful works, which are all scored for oboes, horns and strings, reveal another favourite trait of the composer – his use of syncopation – as well as the strong influence of Haydn, who Boccherini greatly admired. Pleasant, engaging and sometimes surprisingly inventive, the symphonies together with the trios (a new coupling on this release) offer the listener a unique insight into a composer whose music deserves to be better known.