The Galant Cello

So often the cello is the Atlas of the quartet world, supporting, holding and enabling the group from its position of strength beneath. It is a noble and an exciting role. But there was a moment early on in the quartet’s development when the importance and seriousness of this role was cast aside in order to allow the ‘cello a wingedness, a sense of dancing atop the world. The virtuosity and lyricism of Boccherini, the ‘cello god (and composer of over 90 string quartets!), alongside the shape-shifting of the group that Haydn allowed in his Op. 20, or Mozart in the late quartets that he dedicated to the cello-playing Prussian king, gave new possibilities in terms of liberation and melodic eloquence for the root instrument of the group. This went hand and hand with a galant style of writing: elegant, appealing, and providing a contrast, even within these pieces, with more weighty and complex Baroque features. It makes for a gentle zephyr, a scattering of light within the dark, stony church. And it makes for some lovely, engaging music, with a special feeling of nimbleness in the bass opening up the expression of the quartet.


Boccherini: String Quartet, tbd
Haydn: Quartet opus 20 no. 2
Mozart: Quartet K. 590