Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)
Quartets Op. 26, 1778, for two fortepianos
Luigi Boccherini's six Quartettini op. 26, composed in 1778, were transcribed for two harpsichords by an anonymous author at the end of the century and are housed, in manuscript form, in the Sächsische Landesbibliothek of Dresden. These transcriptions were probably made during the regency of the Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus (1763-1806), who owned (and perhaps commissioned) several others, all preserved in Dresden. The practice of two-player keyboard performance (with four hands on the same instrument, or two performers on two separate harpsichords or fortepianos) was widespread: musical amateurs enjoyed reproducing at home the music they had appreciated in theatres or concert halls, and it is known that, during those years, keyboard instruments − the German word Klavier, in particular, denoted not only the harpsichord, but also the new piano and the clavichord − were the favourite instruments of Hausmusik. The Quartets are performed here on two original Johann Schanz fortepianos, one dating approximately from 1810-1815, the other approximately from 1800. The eloquent expression marks (dolce, dolcissimo, soave, sotto voce, mezza voce) make these pieces suitable for the fortepiano, an instrument that is able to emphasise the darkest, most restless colours of Empfindsamkeit.