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Giovanni PAISIELLO (1740-1816)
Concerto No.5 in E flat major, arr. Ettore Bonelli [14:37]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Sonata for Strings No.1 in G major [11:44]
Sonata for Strings No.5 in E flat major [14:51]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Oboe Concerto in E flat major, revised by Terenzio Gargiulo [8:11]
Renato Zanfini (oboe)
Virtuosi di Roma/Renato Fasano
rec. c.1958

Renato Fasano and the Virtuosi di Roma left behind a splendid body of recorded performances. In their great years, which is to say post-Molinari, pre-Scimone, they gave some of the most convincing recordings of native Baroque music around and even at a time when such as Barchet, Warchal, Schneiderhan, I Soloisti di Zagreb and Tomasow were playing and recording – to take a select but disparate selection - the Virtuosi stood tall. The soloists in the band included Luigi Ferro and Guido Mozzato in the well-regarded Four Seasons set and included a phalanx of splendid players - Edmondo Malanotte, the great Franco Gulli, the illustrious Alberto Poltronieri, and Angelo Stefanato amongst them. I can’t be sure if they all play in this Paisello-Bellini-Rossini selection, culled from HMV ALP 1594 and in fine-sounding mono, but I like to think they were.

The Paisiello Concerto, in this arrangement by Ettore Bonelli, is sculpted in warmly affectionate terms, Fasano rightly paying due attention to the inner voicings in the second movement Allegro. Note too here the subtly etched double bass line. For Rossini, one is treated to the panoply of wit both of composer and also interpreters. The grazioso elegance of the opening of the First Sonata for strings is, if anything, matched and perhaps even exceeded by the galant brio of the playing in the finale. The companion Fifth Sonata is similarly alert, with a strong bass line, but this work offers just a little more in the way of expressive tenderness in its Andantino.

Bellini’s Oboe Concerto, heard in the revision made by composer and teacher Terenzio Gargiulo, features the soloistic panache of Renato Zanfini who recorded some excellent LPs of music by the usual suspects; Marcello, Albinoni and Vivaldi, amongst others. It sounds as if this recording was made in a slightly bigger hall, but it may be that microphone placement leads to that conclusion. What’s not in doubt is the charming elegance of the music-making nor its communicative Úlan.

Being a straight LP transfer - and a good one at that - means that the disc comes in shy of 50-minutes. There are, as usual from FR, no notes but there are some internet links. This is hardly an essential disc but it is fully representative of the high standards of playing to be encountered in this ensemble in the 50s and 60s.

Jonathan Woolf



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