BOCCHERINI: Guitar Quintets, Vol. 2 (Danubius Quartet/ Ibolya Toth/ Zoltan Tokos) (Naxos: 8.550552)
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Luigi Boccherini (1743 -1805)
Quintets for Guitar and String Quartet Vol. 2
Quintet in D Major, G. 448
Quintet in D Major, G. 449
Quintet in G Major, G. 450
The Italian cellist and composer Luigi Boccherini was born in Lucca in1743, the son of a double-bass player. His family was distinguished not on I yin music, but boasted poets and dancers among its members. His eider brotherGiovan Gastone, born in 1742, was both dancer and poet, the author of the textof Haydn's Il ritorno di Tobia andthe libretti of some earlier stage-works of the Vienna Court Composer, AntonioSalieri. His sister Maria Ester was a dancer and married Onorato Vigan??, adistinguished dancer and choreographer. Her son, Salvatore Vigano, who studiedcomposition with Boccherini, occupies a position of considerable importance inthe history of ballet.
Boccherini was giving concerts as a cellist by the age of thirteen, andin 1757 went with his father to Vienna, where they both were invited to jointhe orchestra of the court theatre. Boccherini returned to Italy, but therewere further visits to Vienna, before he finally secured a position in hisnative town. In 1766, however, he set out with his fellow-townsman, theviolinist Manfredi, a pupil of Nardini, for Paris, having performed with bothviolinists and with Cambini in chamber music in Milan the previous year.
In France Boccherini and Manfredi won considerable success, and theformer continued his work as a composer, as well as appearing as a cellovirtuoso. In 1768 the pair left for Spain, where Boccherini seems to have liveduntil his death in 1805. In Madrid he was appointed composer and virtuoso decamera to the Infante Don Luis, younger brother of King Charles III. Part ofthe following period he spent in Madrid and part at the Palace of Las Arenas inthe province of Avila, where the Infante retired after an unacceptablemarriage. Members of the Font family were employed by Don Luis as a stringquartet and renewed their association with Boccherini at the end of the century.
After the death of the Infante in 1785 the composer entered the service of theBenavente-Osuna family. At the same time he was appointed court composer toFriedrich Wilhelm, who in 1787 became King of Prussia, providing thecello-playing king with new compositions on the same kind of exclusivearrangement that he had earlier enjoyed with Don Luis. There is, however, noevidence that Boccherini ever spent any time in Prussia. After the death ofFriedrich Wilhelm and the departure of other patrons from Madrid, Boccherinireceived support from Lucien Bonaparte, French ambassador in Madrid, andremained busy to the end of his life, although visitors reported that he livedin all the appearance of poverty.
Boccherini's style is completely characteristic of the period in whichhe lived, the period, that is, of Haydn rather than that of Mozart orBeethoven. He enjoyed a reputation for his facility as a composer, leaving some467 compositions. A great deal of his music is designed to exploit thetechnical resources of the cello, in concertos, sonatas, and, particularly, inchamber music for various numbers of instruments, including a remarkable seriesof quintets with two cellos. The twelve quintets for guitar and string quartet,of which eight have survived, are arrangements by the composer of works writtenfor pianoforte quintet in the late 1790s. The set of six quintets here recordedwere dedicated to the Marqu?¿s de Benavent, an enthusiastic amateur guitarist.
The fourth of the series, in D major, starts with a Pastorale, in the mood of aBaroque Christmas concerto and ends with a lively Spanish dance, the Fandango.
The fifth quintet, again in D major, has an extended series of eightvariations, forming its fourth movement. The group of quintets ends with afour-movement work in G major.
The Hungarian guitarist Zoltan Tokos was born in Kolozsvar, where hebegan his musical studies, continued subsequently at the Budapest Music Academyunder Szendrey Karper Laszlo, in Athens and in master classes with JohnWilliams and with Leo Brouwer. Since 1976 he has been a member of the teachingstaff of the Liszt Music Academy in Debrecen. As a performer he has givenconcerts throughout Europe and his recordings include the Joaquin RodrigoConcierto de Aranjuez with the Budapest Strings. His guitar transcriptions havebeen published by Editio Musica Budapest, Schott, Universal and Salabert.
The Danubius Quartet has won considerable acclaim since itsestablishment in 1983. With the violinists Judit Toth and Adel Miklos, violistCecilia Bodolai and cellist Ilona Wibli, and the artistic direction of thedistinguished violinist Vilmos Tatrai, the quartet won awards at Trapani, Evianand Graz in the earlier years of its foundation, and has recorded, among otherworks, the String Quartet No.1 ofRemenyi for Hungaroton, the complete String Quartets of Villa-Lobos for MarcoPolo and for Naxos the Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets. The DanubiusQuartet has given recitals in Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Italy, France andSwitzerland and appeared at a number of international festivals.