top of page

Exploring Music: Certainly A Virtuoso Cellist, Yuli Turovsky

The MHS Review 395 Vol. 11 No. 17, 1987

click on the cover to return to the table of contents

David Raymond


not yet released.png

To most people, Luigi Boccherini is a rather shadowy name in music history, known only for his famous Minuet and, for many years, the popular Cello Concerto in B-flat that was actually confected by the 19th­-century cellist Grutzmacher from other Boccherini bits and pieces. This Italian-born composer (who, like Domenico Scarlatti, his countryman of several generations before, even­tually settled in Spain wrote ten such concerti (being a virtuoso cellist himself), as well as 20 symphonies, vocal music, and loads and loads of chamber music for strings. (I well remember a dreaded and interminable assignment for an "Introduction to Musicology" course which involved looking up and writing down every single Boccherini quintet in the school library--suffice it to say there are many.)

Boccherini's style is 18th-century classicism--veering slightly towards romanticism--at its most pleasant. He has managed to survive the rather un­charitable nickname of "Haydn's Wife," which he earned presumably because his relaxed, melodious style is quite different from the driving, daring music of his contemporary Haydn. What that slightly sneering nickname doesn't tell you is that Boc­cherini's pleasing and beautifully crafted music offers plenty of pleasure.

Such is the case with the D major Concerto on this record--a gracious, melodious, and charming work beautifully written for the cello. It's a relatively early piece, which Boc­cherini may have played at his suc­cessful Viennese debut in 1764. One can understand the success; who needs Boccherini a la Griitzmacher when the real thing is so pleasing?

Before Boccherini, there was An­tonio Vivaldi, who just about invented the concept of the virtuoso cello con­certo. He freed this highly expressive instrument from its original role as basso continuo accompaniment and, as he did with so many other in­struments, put it center stage.

Vivaldi's cello concerti are less known and less frequently recorded than his violin concerti, but judging from the samples on this recording, they contain equally inspired music. The genre may have been primitive, but Vivaldi's music wasn't: he knew the cello's capabilities for rich sounding cantabile melodies and wide ranging passagework, and worked them out fully. The Double-Cello Concerto is particularly memorable: Vivaldi exploits this rich-sounding combination, as no one did before Schubert and his C major Quintet, in a concerto which carries more emotional weight than many other Vivaldi concerti.

I Musici de Montreal, who have previously recorded music by Shostakovich, successfully turn to the baroque and classical periods here Conductor/soloist Yuli Turovsky leads what used to be called "full blooded Slavic performances'' --more emotionally overt than we often hear nowadays in baroque music. Some of Turovsky's slides, and his omnipre sent vibrato, may raise purists' eyebrows; but he's certainly a vir­tuoso cellist, and I think most listeners will have no trouble enjoying these direct and communicative performances.

Review of Yuli Turovsky Plays Boccherini and Vivaldi page 1

bottom of page