Luigi Boccherini wrote extensively for strings, being himself a cello player. One work, however, stands out among the rest of his output.
Listening to this piece makes me feel like I’m watching Mr. Bean attend a fancy party. It has a distinct melody that almost everyone knows, but few trace it to Boccherini, or have even heard his name. I chose this piece so that anyone reading this article might know who wrote this work they have heard hundreds of times. Boccherini lived in Vienna for several years, which is very apparent in this piece, but eventually settled in Madrid with a court job.
This minuet that is almost cliché for early Classical music begins in A major (, briefly hits A minor, and finishes out in A major in the minuet. The trio is in the dominant key, D major. Finally, there is a da capo section that
repeats the first phrase verbatum. The melodies are very repetitive, but still pleasant. Like much early
classical music, it is in the gallant style, which is especially noticeable in the first part of the minuet and
throughout the trio. Interestingly, he scored this work for two violins, viola, and two cellos.
Compared to music before, there is a much simpler sound and texture here. Basso continuo is not present, and in most areas is a thing of the past.
Music in the next few years will take the strict forms heard in Boccherini’s style and twist them into new ones. This period created the expectations that are thrilling when interrupted rhythmically or harmonically.
This work was written in 1771 and has a very Haydn-esque sound to it. The melody is clear and the accompaniment, though rich, is stripped to its essentials. The viola and first cello just outline the chords on eighth notes while the second cello provides the bass notes on each beat for the first half of the piece. While I find this work to be lovely, I would be bored to death playing most of the parts.