Neglected gems unearthed by label that specializes in unhera
Todd Nolan | Seattle, WA USA | 04/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although these three concertos have been recorded before, they are not well-known and I've never come across concert performances of them. Maybe oboists, bassoonists and english horn players in symphony orchestras harbor unfulfilled wishes that they get to solo in front of their home crowd with these pretty & soulful concertos before an adoring audience. I would love to be in the seats for those, because besides the quality of this music by the composer known more for his operas, I'm probably not alone in wanting to hear our symphony orchestras program the occasional concerto for instruments other than the piano, violin and cello.
Wolf-Ferrari didn't seem to be at all concerned with the fashions and current styles when he wrote these beautiful concertos (1930s, 1940s). No hint of Schoenberg or Hindemith here, all three works sound as if they wanted no part of the avant-garde times. Melody predominates, and I've never heard the bassoon sound so beautiful. Diego Dini Ciacci is soloist for both the oboe and english horn works, and Paolo Carlini is the bassoonist. There was a 1980s recording of the bassoon concerto that shared the bill with Mozart's and Hummel's (Kim Walker, soloist: Gallo label, London Mozart Players) and in a too short disc from 1991 (Koch Schwann, Omar Zoboli soloist) the oboe & english horn pieces are coupled together with nothing else. At only 48 minutes in length, that one had plenty of room for the brief bassoon concerto, as well, but inexplicably left it off. This disc is an easy recommendation for not only the excellent performances, but because these three compositions belong together on one disc.
While I'm at it, for anyone that's interested in giving these wonderful concertos a try, the label CPO has also recorded Wolf-Ferrari's Cello Concerto alongside the Sinfonia Brevis, and another disc coupling the composer's equally neglected Violin Concerto & the Serenade. For comparison purposes, if you enjoy Nielsen's concertos for flute, clarinet & violin, Glazunov's for violin and Rodrigo's for violin & cello (overshadowed by his guitar concertos), you'll be pleased with these sweet, infectious concertos/concertino suites."