Luigi Boccherini: Cello Concerto No.9


Composed during the late 1760s-early 1770s, Luigi Boccherini’s Ninth Cello Concerto is perhaps his most well-known out of the twelve he composed. A dedicated and talented cellist himself, Boccherini enjoyed writing for the instrument, and was able to perform his work before taking it to publication. Throughout the years other composers and arrangers have taken to rearranging Boccherini’s Ninth so as to fit it into more Romantic ideals. These have been widely recorded, but they don’t bear full resemblance to the original. The original has resurfaced in recent years, with famous cellists recording the original material for all to enjoy.


The Music

Cast into three movements, Boccherini’s concerto challenges the dexterity, confidence and technical ability of the soloist.


Movement I – Allegro moderato

The strings open with the main theme, which the cello soloist shadows upon entry some bars later. The loud dynamic of the cello rides above the orchestra, as the parts begin to intertwine. During the central section Boccherini’s delicate and intricate themes properly entangle and the soloist plays with the orchestra. A number of different moods and themes are presented in this bold opening movement, which all leads to a virtuosic and frankly thrilling cadenza played by the soloist. The orchestra unite to finish this movement off in the classical style. 


Movement II – Andante

The lyrical middle movement shows off the cello’s sensitive side. With broad, lyrical melodies sweeping above the slow moving accompaniment, the spotlight is well and truly on the soloist. The orchestra engages in call and response passages with the soloist, which, as the movement progresses, becomes more and more intense. The movement ends quietly in a sombre manner.


Movement III – Rondo

The playful finale sees a horn call start off proceedings. The whirling of themes creates intensity which all builds to the final climax. The dotted quaver rhythm lays at the core of this movement, with both the orchestra and soloist engaging with it. Another virtuosic cadenza section near the end leads to the vivacious coda section. A reprise of the main melodic kernel to the triumphant end of Boccherini’s Ninth Cello Concerto. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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