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Boccherini, Luigi. 6 Trios Op. 1 (G 77-82) for 2 Violins and Violoncello vv

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edited by Rudolf Rasch, Bologna, Ut Orpheus Edizioni, 2014 [Opera Omnia – XXVII.I], ISMN: 979-0-2153-2224-03, ISBN: 978-88-8109-485-1.

Today Boccherini’s best known compositions are his string quintets — indeed remarkable and innovative works — but during the first decade of his career as a composer, let us say the 1760s, he was first of all a composer of string trios, while later his string quartets were considered his main contributions to chamber music of his time. Although printed as “Opus 2”, under the designation “Trietti”, by Antoine Bailleux in Paris in 1767, the trios in the present volume are in fact the composer’s first works, or at least the earliest works the composer chose to remember when he later assembled his thematic catalogue, dated 1760 on that occasion.

The first edition certainly was the source for several later editions of the six works, but a study of the sources leads to the result that many extant manuscripts must have been based directly or indirectly on a manuscript tradition based in turn on the composer’s original manuscript. These manuscripts transmit the pieces in three versions, which perhaps differ not greatly from one another but certainly in a number of details. One of these versions points to an origin in Vienna, where the composer must have resided when writing the pieces. The present edition is based on a manuscript from this “Central-European” group. The order of the pieces differs from that in the eighteenth-century printed editions, but corresponds to Boccherini’s own thematic catalogue.

The trios are written for two violins and violoncello, leaving out a basso continuo. From time to time the cello part uses its high register, presenting the instrument in a solo role, as in so many of Boccherini’s later works for string ensembles. All trios are in three movements, mostly in a slow-fast-fast scheme, where the slow movement is introductory, the first fast movement “serious” and the second fast movement “light”.

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