The Cello in Spain: Boccherini and other 18th-century virtuosi

Josetxu Obregón cello, La Ritirata
Glossa GCD 923103
Music by Boccherini, Duport, Paganelli, Porretti, Supriano, Vidal, Zayas & anon

As the booklet aptly puts it: “The Court of Madrid … acted as deep pit in which the fame of some very good Italian musicians ended up being buried.” For few, I suspect, will have heard names such as Paganelli, Porretti, Supriano, Vidal and Zayas represented on this disc. Some of the composers were, like Boccherini and Domenico Scarlatti, Italians who settled in Spain; others, such as Paganelli and Jean-Pierre Duport (many a cellist will have endured the studies by his brother Jean-Louis) were visitors, whose music shows some Spanish influence while staying the country for a period. Obregón uses, as was customary in Spanish music of the period, a variety of continuo instruments, including guitar, archlute, theorbo and harp. The collection on this disc includes not only sonatas but an unaccompanied toccata (Francesco Supriano), a duet (Pablo Vidal), a lesson (José Zayas) and a concerto by Domingo Porretti, all framed by one of Boccherini’s numerous cello sonatas (G.6 in C) and the Fandango from the guitar quintet G. 448, complete with castanets. The concerto is unusually scored with accompaniment of 2 violins and double bass (with plucked continuo).

Whilst there may be no real master-works amongst the lesser known items (except perhaps for an especially fine anonymous Adagio from the Manuscritto de Barcelona), there are no weak pieces – certainly none to dismiss as ‘best left buried’. This is a collection that is worthy of exploration, performed with great verve, polish and style. I found the record-ing acoustic a little over-reverberative, but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the experience. Booklet notes are very well-researched, with plenty of detail.

Ian Graham-Jones