Boccherini: Stabat Mater, String Quartet op. 41/1

Francesca Boncompagni soprano, Ensemble Symposium
57:52
Brilliant Classics 95356

This delightful all-Boccherini CD is a little gem. The Ensemble Symposium give a charming and thoughtful account of the first of Boccherini’s opus 41 string quartets before being joined by the sweet-voiced Francesca Boncompagni and the additional cellist Nicola Brovelli for an utterly beguiling account of his G532 Stabat Mater. The strings master completely the two very different roles of chamber music ensemble and accompanying mini-orchestra, while Ms Boncompagni negotiates beautifully the fine line between vocal precision and mere elegance.

The addition of a second cello and a slightly bigger acoustic establishes a wider canvas for what is a masterly contribution to the rich and varied world of settings of the Stabat Mater. There is beauty and profundity in Ms Boncompagni’s singing, although she never loses sight of Boccherini’s delicately engaging idiom. There is also more depth than I remembered in the op 41/1 quartet, a work which shares some material with the Stabat Mater  and which occasionally skirts the same dark musical world. The recording is crystal clear and the acoustic pleasingly generous without being over-resonant. Having thoroughly enjoyed the wonderfully expressive playing and singing here, I am also grateful to the performers for reminding me that there is more to Boccherini’s music than a superficial elegance.

D. James Ross