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Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948)
Orchestral Works: Suite from the opera ‘I gioielli della Madonna’ (1911) [16:48]; Prelude and Intermezzo from ‘I quattro rusteghi’ (1906) [5:31]; Suite-Concertino in F major Op. 16 for bassoon and orchestra (1932) [21:56]; Overture and Intermezzo from ‘Il segreto di Susanna’ (1909) [6:25]; Overture and Intermezzo from ‘L’amore medico’ (1939) [13:32]; Intermezzo and Ritornello from ‘Il campiello’ (1936) [5:54]; Overture from ‘La dama boba’ (1939) [8:19]
Karen Geoghegan (bassoon)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda
rec. 5-6 August 2008, Studio 7, BBC Broadcasting House, Manchester. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN 10511 [79:28]
Experience Classicsonline

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari was an Italian composer whose music was most recognised in German Opera Houses. He had an Italian mother and a German father, so the influence of the two countries was present in his upbringing. He spent much of his life in Munich, and established himself musically there.

I gioielli della Madonna (Jewels of the Madonna) is s serious work in the verismo style, and is stylistically similar to other products of the time, such as those by Leoncavallo, Mascagni and Puccini. The Suite, heard here, has an exuberant opening, with rich orchestration and rustic character. The Intermezzo is a soaring minor-key melody, which is reminiscent of Cavalleria Rusticana and gives the strings a particular opportunity to demonstrate their expressive capabilities. The following Serenata is a charming waltz, with a jaunty flute theme performed here with flair over a rich counter-melody. This is a simple but highly effective movement, which demonstrates an excellent understanding of orchestration. The final movement of the suite is the thrilling Danza Napolitana, which returns to a rustic style and follows a sectional form.

Instinctively he favoured neo-classical treatment of earlier styles in a modern context, and he wrote a number of comic operas in this pattern. I quattro rusteghi (School for Fathers) is one such opera, and the playing here is poised and well paced.

The Suite-Concertino in F major for bassoon and orchestra captures the attention from the opening bars with the rich and sonorous tone of Karen Geoghegan’s bassoon playing. The breath control in the opening Notturno is particularly impressive, as is the evenness of tone. There are some beautifully shaped phrases and subtle changes of tone colour which help to bring the long lines to life. The Strimpellata is an energetic dance, which gives Geoghegan opportunity to demonstrate her technical skills and strikingly clear articulation. The Canzone gives a further opportunity to focus the attention on sound quality, while the Finale is perhaps more musically straightforward but is equally well-performed. This is impressive playing from one so young.

The remainder of the disc contains music from more of Wolf-Ferrari’s comic operas, Il segreto di Susanna, L’amore medico, Il Campiello and La dama boba. The music is full of operatic charm, performed with expression and drama by the BBC Philharmonic under Gianandrea Noseda. The waltz movements are particularly enjoyable, having a wonderful sense of poised charm. The richly romantic themes in the overture from La dama boba are also particularly sumptuous and enormously enjoyable. The sound quality of this recording is consistently excellent, as we have come to expect from Chandos.

Carla Rees

see also

Karen Geoghegan plays Bassoon Concertos
HUMMEL,WEBER, BERWALD , JACOBI, ELGAR,GERSHWIN Karen Geoghegan (bassoon) Orchestra of Opera North/Benjamin Wallfisch CHANDOS CHAN 10477

Karen Geoghegan interviewed by Carla Rees


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