S0143. QUINTETTO BOCCHERINI: (5) String Quintets, Vol. II (Boccherini). (Austria) Testament SBT 1244,
recorded 1954-55. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 749677124427
“In his booklet notes to Testament's luscious reissues of the fabled Quintetto Boccherini's mid-1950s EMI recordings of their namesake's two-cello quintets, Tully Potter calls Boccherini the ‘most likable of composers’. That he was. It's hard to think of another composer whose music goes down more easily, or who affords more pure listening pleasure than this native of Lucca who spent most of his career in Spain. Virtually everything the man wrote is chock-full of singing melodies, rich textures, quirky rhythms, and harmonic subtleties. To that mix many of his string quintets add active first cello parts (for Boccherini to play himself) and, like much of his other music, frequent allusions to Spanish dance music.
Fundamentalist adherents of period performance practice will find these pioneering recordings anachronistic. The Quintetto Boccherini plays modern instruments (actually old instruments with modern strings and bows) used with more vibrato and legato than today's youngbloods tolerate. They employ moderate tempos and overt emotionality and dare to use outdated performing editions that were replaced long after the group disbanded. To which criticism the only possible reply is: Get used to it. For this ensemble played Boccherini's quintets at a time when they were extremely rare, played them lovingly, delivered performances that were outstanding in their time, and now, almost 50 years later, still sound fine.
Returning to these recordings after many years, I'm struck not only by how good they still are but also with how even the most recalcitrant among us cannot help but be influenced by the huge changes in performance practice. So yes, many's the moment when I wanted more urgent tempos in the faster movements, a more freewheeling approach, and some period-appropriate ornamentation….this Testament series is a necessary purchase for anyone who loves Boccherini's music….Boccherini being Boccherini, an extremely high proportion of them make you want to hit your CD player's repeat button.
The sound, made in the waning days of monophonic recording (1954/55), is full of presence and conveys dynamic subtleties; however, violins are given prominence at the expense of the cellos, which sometimes are reduced to dim shadows. There are traces of tape wear-induced distortion and grain but nothing to get upset about. Today's top stereo engineers are able to capture more inner detail and rounder timbres, but there's nothing in the sonics of this generously filled disc (79:31) that prevents full enjoyment.”
- Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com