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Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948)
Idillio-Concerto for oboe, strings and two horns Op.15 (1932) [18:53]
Concertino for cor anglais, strings and two horns Op.34 (1947) [24:38]
Suite Concertino for bassoon, strings and two horns Op.16 (1933) [19:48]
Piet van Bockstal (oboe and cor anglais)
Luc Loubry (bassoon)
Westsächisches Symphonie Orchester (West Saxony Symphony Orchestra)/Hans Rotman
No recording details
TALENT SACD DOM 2929 90 [63:30]

Wolf-Ferrariís Idillio-Concerto for oboe, strings and two horns is a work that comes gift-wrapped "delicious". You canít go wrong with it, unless youíre especially insensitive. Fortunately Piet van Bockstal displays no such limitations and he too revels in its lyricism, warmth and verdant welcoming power. Yes, by 1932 it might have seemed old hat but who cares about hats now, old or otherwise. This is a just a gorgeous work pure and simple Ė would that Leon Goossens had got his chops around it and spun his fabled legato on its lissom fabric.

Still, again, letís forego Goossens - since he didnít record it - and concentrate on the warm glow of this SACD performance. Lightly sprung, delicately orchestrated and excellently played, the work receives a flexible and very winning performance. We can enjoy anew the pert scherzo and the reflective and beautifully vocalised melody of the slow movement; so too the gentle end of the concerto. No one would claim it to be a work of profundity but if itís profundity you want go and listen to Bruckner. Wolf-Ferrariís forte was luscious, lovely melody.

That said once youíve heard the Idillio-Concerto youíve pretty much heard the 1947 Concertino for cor anglais, strings and two horns. This was his last completed work and is again cast in four essentially neo-classical movements and their layout is decidedly reminiscent of the earlier work. Still, easy charm is here in abundance and no sign of darkening skies. The same loping unhurried ease pervades the score, the same verismo lyricism Ė little fugal feints that donít really mean it, light and spruce orchestration that never swamps the relative fragility of the cor anglais; and listen out for the perkiest of trios in the capriccio movement. The slow movement is a warm aria Ė not regretful, not leave taking, not lachrymose, just lovely. The finale even opens with some decidedly classical hunting horns Ė terrific stuff.

The final work is the Suite Concertino for bassoon, strings and two horns and itís back to 1933 for this one. Again four movements and again simplicity of means. And once more we get more lyricism, charm, classical form, a breezy scherzo and a warm if burly aria for the bassoon. The finale even ends with naughty baroque trills for the soloist along with a plangent "back to 1740" cadence. Why donít more bassoonists play it? Youíd have to ask a bassoonist I suppose.

First class performances all round and warm SACD sound though I listened on a conventional set-up. The performers are well balanced, the sound very congenial. I happen to be partial to Wolf-Ferrari and others wouldnít be quite so indulgent. Agreed, thereís some similar expressive ground covered in all three works. So donít programme them together Ė spread them throughout the evening. Youíll enjoy them.

Jonathan Woolf


see also review by Michael Cookson


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