Wolf-Ferrari: Concertos - Rotman
Talent Records DOM 2929 90
Classical - Orchestral
Wolf-Ferrari: Idillio - Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra Op. 15, Concertino for English Horn and Orchestra Op. 34, Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra Op. 16
Piet van Bockstal (oboe)
Luc Loubry (bassoon)
Westsachisches Symphonie Orchester
Hans Rotman (conductor)
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Review by Graham Williams - August 13, 2006
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) is best known, if at all, for his operas which were popular before World War 1, notably I quattro rusteghi – (1906) and Il segretto di Susanna – (1909), while the later Sly – (1927) has been revived in recent years both on disc and on stage. The intermezzo from I gioielli della Madonna – (1911) has long been a popular ‘lollipop’.
Although Venice was both the city of his birth and death, he spent most of his life in Germany and was a near contemporary of Richard Strauss, but composed in a more conservative and eclectic style.
This interesting SACD brings us three of his many, virtually forgotten, instrumental works written towards the end of his life. Each one is a concertino scored for a different wind instrument and an orchestra consisting of just strings and two horns.
Idillio (1932) is a well-crafted, melodic piece, somewhat reminiscent of Strauss’s Oboe Concerto in mood and scale. Piet Van Bockstal, who has a most pleasing tone, plays it beautifully here. The wonderfully expressive Adagio, with its sustained Puccinian warmth tinged with regret, brings to the fore the Italian side of the composer, and the work concludes with a cheerful Rondo.
The rather neo-classical Concertino for Cor Anglais, written fifteen years later, was Wolf-Ferrari’s last completed work. Like Idillio it is cast in four movements (entitled Preludio, Capriccio, Adagio and Finale), but is rather more serious in intent. Once again the most memorable music is in the haunting, and at times Brucknerian, slow movement that is followed by a spirited, untroubled, finale. The intractable nature of the Cor Anglais as an instrument presents no problems to Piet Van Bockstal who dispatches the whole piece with a winning combination of virtuosity and sensitivity.
The Suite Concertino for Bassoon that completes the disc is a real delight. Starting with a nostalgic Notturno we move to a short movement called Strimpellata (Presto), which will certainly bring a smile to your face. A lyrical Canzone that illustrates the superb legato playing of the soloist Luc Loubry comes next and the suite is completed by a bucolic Andante con moto in which the interplay between soloist and orchestra is most engaging. For this work alone the disc is worth buying.
In all three works Hans Rotman and the Westsächisches Symphonie Orchester provide deft and sympathetic accompaniments.
The SACD recording, which is transferred at quite a high level, is very clear with a good balance between the soloists and the orchestra, a firm soundstage and a well-judged use of the rear channels for ambience. The notes provide background information about the music and the performers, but nothing about the recording system used (probably PCM) nor the location of the recording venue.
Whilst it would be wrong to pretend that any of these pieces are unjustly neglected masterpieces, each of them is full of unfailingly attractive music and brings unalloyed listening pleasure. I cannot imagine them being better performed than on this SACD and Talent have done a valuable service in making this rare repertoire accessible in such a fine recording.
Copyright © 2006 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net