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Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948)
Idillio – Concertino in A Major, Op.15 (1933) [21:04]
Serenata for Strings (1893) [22:46]
Suite – Concertino in F Major, Op.16 (1933) [23:29]
Fabien Thousand (oboe); Valentino Zucchiatti (bassoon)
Nueva Orchestra da Camera Ferruccio Busoni/Massimo Belli
rec. 2017, Church of San Michele, Trieste, Italy

Two Concertinos from 1933 open and close this disc and enclose the early Serenata for Strings. The music is sensationally good, allowance being made for the stropped cutting edge of the violins. It is a little reminiscent of Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances and of Strauss's Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Yet even when it reaches back to the Mozartean world it is light on its feet. Another composer recalled, but presumably not serving as a model, is Elgar in his Serenade and the two “Salut” pieces. This is music that is not tragic or ecstatic but that does not berate or suffer but instead yields charm, gentle mourning and enchantment.

The Serenata predates the two Concertinos by forty years but it belies being the product of a 17 year old. It's pleasingly and subtly gauged treatments plunge with passion and float with delicacy. As an example try the Andante. The whole thing deserves to take a place equal with the equivalent Tchaikovsky, Suk and Dvořák serenades. At times it stands tall alongside Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro.

The Bassoon Concertino, from the same year as the oboe work, is also for solo instrument, string orchestra and two horns. The composer daringly starts the bassoon work with a sable-toned Notturno. The bassoonist Valentino Zucchiatti is hardly less engaged and charming than oboist Fabien Thousand in the Suite. Perhaps the little Strimpellata movement does not quite take off but it enchantingly takes off on tip-toe and does so at speed. An ever so slightly mournful Canzone precedes a caperingly vigorous finale worthy of Dickens' Cheerible brothers. These two concertinos take their place as equals but very different from the full-scale concertos for violin and cello.

The strings of the Nova Orchestra da Camera “Ferruccio Busoni” are not cut from the most creamy Axminster when it comes to the sound of their violins. Still, they give a decent and enjoyable account of Wolf-Ferrari's three playful idyllic pieces and are a supportive presence in the two Concertinos.

Entirely complementary notes join the usual musician profiles. The music-notes (in English only) comprise an extensive piece of context by David Moncur and a ‘notelet’ by Margherita Canale.

Rob Barnett

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