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Spring 2020: Corona embarks on its world tour of destruction. Musicians may be grounded, but dreams live on, and suddenly there’s time to finally realise one of them: record some of Boccherini’s music with my friends from The Northern Consort.
It was clear that the cello would play a more dominant role than we’re used to in The Northern Consort. Luigi Boccherini occupies a special place in cellists’ hearts: he must have been a phenomenal player, and, happily, he was also a composer. His exceptional knowledge of the technical possibilities of the cello helped him create a completely knew sound-palette. This is particularly evident in his chamber music, with its splendid vocalic lines, often revealing an undertone of melancholy, combined with impressive virtuosity, and with a wink or a smile appearing now and then from under the surface. In this way he constantly explores new sound-areas: crazy sections, or seemingly unplayable runs, often in the region of ‘eternal snow’– very high up on the string. Rendering these passages playable is still an enormous puzzle for every cellist, and it often feels a bit like a Sudoku: with enough perseverance, everything suddenly falls into place.
In 1798, the French violinist and composer Jean Baptist Carlier wrote the now famous words: “If God wanted to speak to humanity through music, he’d do it with Joseph Haydn’s works. But if God wanted to listen to music himself, he’d choose the music of Boccherini.” Is it due to the constantly surprising wealth of sound-colours? Or is it because we can so effortlessly and naturally abandon ourselves to this music?
When, in August of 2020 – after five months of detachment, and without work, concerts, or audience – we came together for these recordings, playing this chamber-music, especially, felt like a wonderful gift. Those days with Boccherini’s music in the Westzaanse Zuidervermaning, with its gorgeous acoustic and captivating, serene atmosphere, were a joy. We hope that the listener can now share that experience, and be transported, with us, to a warm, southern ambience.