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Boccherini: Concerto For Violoncello & Orchestra/J.C. Bach: Symphony Concertante/Bach: Grand Overture
Luigi Boccherini, Johann Christian Bach, Layton James
Boccherini: Concerto For Violoncello & Orchestra/J.C. Bach: Symphony Concertante/Bach: Grand Overture
Genre: Classical
 

      
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Small Gem
Eugene G. Barnes | Dunn Loring, VA USA | 04/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's good to see this old digital recording (from 1981-2) still treading the boards. Back before Yo-Yo Ma began his holy pilgrimage to find himself among the Africans and the Appalachians (a journey I cannot begrudge him, if that's what his soul yearned for), before, in other words, the cross-over bug bit, these were the kinds of wonderful recordings we could routinely expect of him. This may not be his finest hour during this era - after all, these are not exactly monuments of the literature - but it vouchsafes us the Ma genius in areas for which we could not otherwise have reasonably hoped.Boccherini's Cello Concerto was liberally rewritten by one Friedrich Gruetzmacher many years after Luigi produced the original notes, and it is that "arrangement" that Ma plays. (The original is now quite lost.) It is a slight, sweet work, 20 minutes long, with such a conventional ending you hardly know it is over. But it has a generous number of "Kodak moments," where you want to sigh and say, "Ah, yes."The two other works on the CD are by Johann Christian Bach, the "London" son of old J.S. and a hero to a young and impressionable Mozart. The Bach Symphonie Concertante adds the talents of the CD's conductor, Pinchas Zukerman, in the role of violin soloist. I would be happy to sing the praises of this most undervalued of musicians to anyone who would let me. Suffice to say, here he adds considerably to the already high artistic level in evidence so far. Zukerman and Ma play as one. It's the best work on the CD, and a real discovery.The final work is a symphony, the first from a set of six J.C. Bach wrote as his Opus 18. No soloists here, just a chance to hear the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra play the kind of music for which they are best known, as well as a chance to hear an early (pub. 1781) version of that thing we now call "symphony." They take the second movement too slowly, but so does everyone else I've ever heard, so this is still one of the best renditions out there. Balance that with a rollicking third movement that is all too brief.And if this sampling of the great J.C. Bach (yes, I like him) whets your whistle, do try more. There's plenty out there; perhaps start with the complete Opus 18!"