BOCCHERINI Cello Sonatas (Cocset)
It’s such a very long time since the French baroque cellist Bruno Cocset brought out his first excellent Boccherini album – a 2004 recording featuring Sonatas Nos 4, 17 and 23 alongside the second and seventh Concertos (3/06) – that this latest offering of five further sonatas feels far more like a surprise gift than it does a standard Volume 2. The album is certainly a continuation, though, most especially because it sees Cocset develop an approach he brought to that previous disc’s Sonata No 7, when he gave its bass line accompaniment not to a second cello as usual but instead to a guitar, his stance being that there’s no reason why Boccherini mightn’t also have had other instruments in mind, especially given the range of occasions he may have performed at during his youthful concert tours of the 1760s.
So, while for No 5 in G and No 13 in A Cocset is joined simply by the cellist Emmanuel Jacques, for sombre and dramatic No 2 in C minor his partner is the fortepianist Maude Gratton on a wooden-hammered instrument in vogue during this period in Italy. No 1 in F meanwhile offers the standard mid-18th-century continuo template, Cocset and Jacques now joined by harpsichordist Bertrand Cuiller. Perhaps most enjoyable of all, though, is Sonata No 12, the disc’s most ‘classical’ galant arrangement, for which Gratton rejoins Cocset and Jacques on a far fuller-toned piano with leather-covered hammers.
Needless to say, this is all fantastically thoughtful ‘authentic’ ear candy for those who like a bit of spice in their HIP, and Cocset himself is the icing on the cake. Playing an instrument specially constructed by Charles Riché with Boccherini’s violin-high writing in mind, his many golden moments include 2'34" to 3'21" in No 5’s Largo, where first you have the soft-focus sweetness of his double-stopping, then the whistle-clean exuberance of his final top swoop. Or look to the opening of No 12’s Allegro moderato for a moment when his cantabile phrasing and his instrument’s sonorous middle registers shine.
So what I want to know now is: will there be a Volume 3?