Boccherini: String Quartets Op.26

In this video

Composer: Luigi Boccherini
Artists: Ensemble Symposium, Igor Cantarelli (violin), Gian Andrea Guerra (violin), Simone Laghi (viola), Gregorio Buti (violoncello)

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Generally known as Boccherini’s Op.26, this set of two-movement ‘quartettini’ was first published as Op.32, but confusion has continued down the years, which may be one reason why these delightful works have remained little-known and under-recorded; the only extant version on CD is of arrangements for keyboard and piano quartet, so this set offers a valuable first chance to acquaint oneself with Boccherini’s original scoring.
The composer himself numbered the quartets among his ‘opera piccola’ – small works – but by grouping them in three pairs, it is possible to observe a macro-structure within the whole of Op.26, with a triple alternation of a scheme of fast-(menuet and trio) – slow – (menuet and trio). Certainly Boccherini did not intend the quartets to be taken less seriously than the longer-form quartets: ‘it is all cloth of the same piece,’ he remarked to his publisher, and his palette of sound is no less varied for the size of his chosen canvas, ranging from sweet, cantabile melodies to abrupt introductions and sudden conclusions. Op.26 is full of surprises, sometimes in his use of Spanish folk material, which betrays their origin as music composed for the Infante Don Luis at his court near Madrid. The Infante was the brother of the King of Spain Charles III. Boccherini remained in service of Don Luis as compositore and virtuoso di camera from 1770 to the death of the Infante, in 1785. There is even a fandango to conclude the set, in the finale of G200.

00:00:00 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in B-Flat Major, G. 195: I. Allegro moderato
00:04:28 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in B-Flat Major, G. 195: II. Minuetto con moto – Trio
00:09:48 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in G Minor, G. 196: I. Larghetto
00:14:17 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in G Minor, G. 196: II. Minuetto – Trio
00:18:47 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in E-Flat Major, G. 197: I. Allegro vivace
00:23:40 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in E-Flat Major, G. 197: II. Minuetto – Trio
00:27:41 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in A Major, G. 198: I. Larghetto
00:33:17 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in A Major, G. 198: II. Minuetto con moto – Trio
00:37:56 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in F Major, G. 199: I. Allegretto
00:43:11 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in F Major, G. 199: II. Minuetto allegro – Trio
00:47:09 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in F Minor, G. 200: I. Andante appassionato ma non lento
00:52:41 6 String Quartets, Op. 26, Quartetto in F Minor, G. 200: II. Minuetto – Trio

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