The Strad Issue: May 2015
Description: Stylish sonatas from two quintessential Baroque composers
Musicians: Catherine Jones (cello) Giulia Nuti (harpsichord) Alison McGillivray (cello) William Carter (archlute/guitar)
Composer: Boccherini, Cirri

Boccherini’s richly decorated, galant melodic idiom is difficult to realise successfully, especially while contending with brilliant left-hand passagework in the upper register, double-stopping and other bravura challenges. Catherine Jones admirably captures the expressive tone, warm cantabile sonority and neat ornamentation characteristic of Boccherini’s playing style. She adopts light, fast bow strokes, phrases imaginatively and performs with taste and finesse, notably in the first movements of nos.1 and 2, and she is eloquent in the expressive slow movements, adding stylish cadenzas as appropriate. Intonation, though, is occasionally wayward and her accounts lack that last ounce of finish.

She seems more at ease with the solo writing of the outer movements of Cirri’s sonatas, which emphasise melody over technical display and centre their exploitation of the higher registers and cross-string figurations on more stationary block hand positions. The genial rondo finales of op.15 nos.3 and 4 and the variations of no.5 are especially well characterised and the central slow movements showcase her warm lyrical playing.

Jones is supported throughout by a sensitive continuo team, which offers a pleasing variety of instrumental colours. The resonant recording has fine body and presence, but there are some distracting external noises and the overall production includes typographical and track timing errors.