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Aldo Ferraresi (violin)
The Gigli of the Violin

rec. 1929-1973
The Art of Violin 1
RHINE CLASSICS RH001 [18 CDs: 20 hours]

The Italian violinist Aldo Ferraresi (1902-1978) was born in Ferrara. Aged only 12, he was accepted at the the Conservatory in Parma to study under Mario Corti. Three years later he obtained a degree from the Accademia di Santa Cecilia. It was Jan Kubelik who suggested he go to Eugène Ysaÿe, who considered him one of his best pupils. From 1923 he led the Aldo Ferraresi Chamber Orchestra and played at the Gran Caffé Margherita in Viareggio. He travelled Europe and the States as a soloist in addition to his work as first violin in the Quartet of San Remo and concertmaster of the Symphony Orchestra of San Remo and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Teaching played an important part in his life, and he held the violin class at the Niccolò Piccinni Conservatory in Bari from 1967-1973, where his pupils included Uto Ughi.

In a concert in Genoa 12 October 1950, Ferraresi performed Paganini's First Concerto on the violinist/composer's 1742 'Il Cannone' Guarneri del Gesù. A snapshot of the violinist from the event with the fiddle in question adorns the box and the individual card sleeves. The collection offers a generous amount of Paganini recordings, a composer obviously close to the artist's heart. His lexicon of bowings and virtuosic embellishments ensured him a clear run in this music. Sadly we don't have a memento of that 1950 event, but the box affords us with three versions of the war-horse concerto. Two are live (1962 and 1966), and one was set down in the studio (1963). In each, Ferraresi performs the spectacular Sauret cadenza. Of the three performances, the 1962 live version under the direction of Luciano Rosada is the most vital and engaging, with the violinist positively responding to, and gaining inspiration from, the live event. Of the other Paganini works, there’s a Fourth Concerto, and a couple of versions of Nel cor più non mi sento and Le Streghe (Kreisler arrangement). These are pieces that provide the perfect vehicle to showcase the violinist's technical arsenal, with double-stops, left-hand pizzicatos, staccato, spiccato and richochet bowing and harmonics. CD 2 contains a 1963 studio recording of these two pieces, performed on Paganini's 'Il Cannone'.

How does Ferraresi fare in the staples of the repertoire? Refinement and elegance inform Mozart's Fifth Violin Concerto Turkish, taped live in June 1960, with Carlo Zecchi proving a sympathetic collaborator. The Beethoven Concerto is very fine, indeed. Notable for its nobility and poise in the first movement, I'm won over by the expressive delicacy in the slow movement and rhythmic vigour in the finale. Ferraresi plays the Kreisler cadenza in this 1960 family archive document. From eight years later there's a perfectly serviceable account of the Tchaikovsky with Gaetano Delogu directing the Orchestra Alessandro Scarlatti, Naples.

Two British concertos receive outstanding performances. The Elgar is a supple reading. Ferraresi has a clear affinity with this work and renders an idiomatic and stylish performance. It's generally more heart-on-sleeve than Heifetz's rendition. Pietro Argento provides admirable support. The two Walton Concerto performances are equally successful The earliest from the family archive has the composer himself at the helm and dates from 1955, the venue being the Royal Festival Hall, London. Milan hosts the second performance six years later in May 1961. Again a live recording, but in much better sound. Both are technically assured readings. I rather prefer the more forward profile of the soloist in the later performance.

The Russians are represented by a 1959 reading of Shostakovich’s No.1 in A minor with Mario Rossi. Ferraresi's warm, rounded tone seems well-suited to this score. There's brooding reflection in the Nocturne, with the Scherzo agile, manic and crisply articulated. A well structured Passacaglia follows with a deftly dispatched cadenza, The final Burlesque provides a breathtaking gallop to the finishing line. In the Khachaturian Concerto all concerned make the best job of a work I honestly have to admit I dislike. All concerned have a real feel for the Armenian folk rhythms that saturate the score.

As a rarities buff, the collection tenders some enticing examples. Mario Guarino’s Concerto (1948), of which we have two examples, live and studio, bears a dedication to the violinist. Its substantial opening movement has a lush, bucolic demeanour. Sultry lyricism, interspersed with hotspots of passionate intensity, panders to the violinist's songlike tone, whilst the puckish finale employs double-stops, harmonics and spiccatos and is carried off with élan. The studio recording is less vital than the live airing. The performance of Alfredo D’Ambrosio’s Concerto No.1 in B minor (1903) is heard in a 1971 family archive recording. The work opens in improvisatory mood and sounds quite rhapsodic as it progresses. The other two movements are lyrically munificent. The sound is a little rough and ready, though. Another dedication to Ferraresi is the 1951 concerto by Stjepan Šulek, which here receives a world première recording. Again, taken from the family archive, the sound is a little coarse. Ultra-Romantic, the slow movement takes a wistful glance back, with the finale holding out hope and prosperity.

I find Ferraresi emotionally detached in Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata and the whole thing is a lacklustre affair. Fauré's Violin Sonata No.1 possesses a Gallic charm and one feels assured that the violinist resides in his comfort zone. Strangely, he doesn't employ spiccato bowing in the Scherzo, and the result is that it lacks the fire and sparkle of Heifetz in this work. In the Strauss Sonata, there's sufficient passion and heroic grandeur in the outer movements, contrasted by romantic tenderness in the slow movement.

We are fortunate to have aural documents of Brahms' three sonatas in rehearsals from March 1965. Apparently the original radio master was destroyed so all we have is the violinist's own tape copy. The Op.78 fares the best, in good sound and complete with tuning up. The other two sonatas have suffered some damage, more evident in Op.108, where the first movement opens several bars in. For some reason, the audio quality suffers in the second and third sonatas.

If you want to explore pastures new, studio recordings from the early 1970s of three sonata rarities can be found on CD 15. Ferraresi's collaborator is pianist Ernesto Galdieri, and each is a world première recording. Needless to say, the sound quality is first rate. Franco Alfano’s 1923 Sonata is here performed in a 1933 revision. The music, lyrically effusive, basks in Delian lustre, rising at times to moments of sensual intensity. Mario Guarino's Sonata is more chromatically advanced and a harder nut to crack, only revealing its hidden treasures after several hearings. Karl Höller’s Music for violin and piano Op.27 I liked the least of the three works. The opener is a Toccata and Fugue, which I found rather angular. A brief Intermezzo precedes a more lengthy finale, hampered by prolixity.

CDs 15 and 16 house a selection of encore pieces. One can see why the violinist became known as 'The Gigli of the Violin', in the way he vocalizes many of these pieces. Examples include Gluck's Mélodie, Dvořák's Slavonic Dance No. 3 and Mendelssohn's 'On Wings of Song'. The Gershwin arrangements, however, are no match for Heifetz's suave elegance, nuance and panache. Bazzini's La Ronde des Lutins is taken at a ridiculously fast pace and sounds frenetic and becomes a garbled mess at times. As for Massenet's Méditation, despite the overdone downward portamentos, it's as fervent as any I've heard.

For those who speak Italian, the final disc captures the voice of Ferraresi himself, where he recounts his youth, career and time spent with Eugène Ysaÿe. The tape, left unedited, comes from the private family archive. On CD 13 we can hear the violinist performing, on different occasions, works by the Belgian master. Each demands a formidable technique, but the lyrical qualities of the music shine forth. I was encountering the Poème Élégiaque, Op.12. for the first time, and couldn't help noticing its indebtedness to César Franck. It's a bonus to hear the Divertimento Op. 24 in two versions - with piano and with orchestra. Finally, keeping it in the family, Aldo and his son Augusto play the former’s arrangement of Schubert's Ave Maria. I have to say that I find the Wilhelmj version infinitely preferable. Ferraresi’s string quartet, the Quartetto di San Remo, with Marco Martini on piano, give a compelling account of Brahms’ Piano Quintet in a 1963 studio recording.

As is par for the course with Rhine Classics, presentation is top-drawer, from the well-constructed card box to the individual sleeves which hold the discs. The booklet runs to thirty-one pages, and offers the purchaser a detailed discography of the contents with track listings and dates of performances. What further impressed me were the seven pages of photographs offering a telling panorama of the artist’s life and career. Audio restorer Emilio Pessina has worked a miracle with his source material (radio masters, 78rpms, 33rpms and reel-to-reel tapes). No connoisseur of the art of violin playing would want to be without this remarkable collection. It will certainly take pride of place on my shelves.

Stephen Greenbank
 
Previous review: Jonathan Woolf

Contents
CD1
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART(1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No.5 Turkish K219 (1775) [38:47]
Orchestra Alessandro Scarlatti, Naples/Carlo Zecchi, recorded 21 June 1960
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61 (1806) [41:20]
Radio-Orchester Beromünster/Erich Schmid, recorded 20 May 1963

CD2
Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Violin Concerto No.1 Op.6, M.S.21 (1816) [31:11]
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI/Luciano Rosada, recorded 19 April 1962
Antonio BAZZINI (1818-1897)
Violin Concerto No.4 in A minor, Op.38 (1865) [18:05]
Orchestra Alessandro Scarlatti, Naples/Franco Gallini, recorded 13 June 1961
Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
“Nel cor più non mi sento” for solo violin, M.S.44 (1827) rev. Aldo Ferraresi [8:51]
Le streghe, Op.8 M.S.19 (1813) arr. Fritz Kreisler [9:42]
Augusto Ferraresi (piano), recorded 1963, studio recording, Milan

CD3
Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Violin Concerto No.1 Op.6, M.S.21 (1816) [32:41]
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma/Franco Gallini, recorded 1963, studio recording, Rome
Violin Concerto No.4 in D minor, M.S.60 (1829-30) [27:41]
Orchestra Sinfonica RAI Milan/Franco Gallini, recorded 27 April 1963

CD4
Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Violin Concerto No.1 Op.6, M.S.21 (1816) [32:12]
Orchestra Sinfonica RAI Rome/Ferruccio Scaglia, recorded 19 November 1966
Mario GUARINO (1900-1971)
Violin Concerto (1948) [38:15]
Orchestra Sinfonica RAI Milan/Ferruccio Scaglia, recorded 30 July 1969

CD5
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Violin Concerto Op.35 (1878) [31:37]
Orchestra Alessandro Scarlatti, Naples/Gaetano Delogu, recorded 14 July 1968
Stjepan ŠULEK (1914-1986)
Violin Concerto in D minor (1951) [30:57]
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI/Ferruccio Scaglia, recorded 30 June 1956
Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Capriccio-Konzertstück B81, Op.24 (1878) [9:29]
Orchestra Alessandro Scarlatti, Naples/Leopold Ludwig, recorded 1 April 1967

CD6
Alfredo D’AMBROSIO (1871-1914)
Violin Concerto No.1 in B minor, Op.29 (1903) [25:41]
Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice/Carlo Farina, recorded 1971
Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
“Nel cor più non mi sento” for solo violin, M.S.44 (1827) rev. Aldo Ferraresi [6:18]
Recorded as encore of above concerto performance
Mario GUARINO (1900-1971)
Violin Concerto (1948) [37:39]
Radio-Orchester Beromünster/Carlo Farina, recorded 1968 in studio


CD7
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)

Violin Concerto in B minor Op.61 (1910) [41:40]
Orchestra Sinfonica RAI Milan/Pietro Argento, recorded 22 March 1966
William WALTON (1902-1983)
Violin Concerto (1938-39) [27:33]
RPO/William Walton, recorded 16 November 1966

CD8
William WALTON (1902-1983)
Violin Concerto [29:43]
Orchestra Sinfonica RAI Milan/Milton Forstat, recorded 26 May 1961
Arthur BENJAMIN (1893-1960)
Romantic Fantasy for violin, viola and small orchestra (1956) [22:47]
Hermann Friedrich (viola)/
Radio-Orchester Beromünster/Erich Schmid, recorded 1963
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Two Solemn Melodies, Op.77a (1914-15) [9:48]
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI/Armando La Rosa Parodi, recorded 12 June 1965

CD9
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.77(99) (1948 rev.1955) [34:27]
Orchestra Sinfonica RAI Turin/Mario Rossi, recorded 15 May 1959
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Violin Concerto in D minor (1940) [34:07]
Orchestra Sinfonica RAI Turin/Aram Khachaturian, recorded 12 April 1963

CD10
Carlo JACHINO (1887-1971)

Sonata drammatica per violino e orchestra (1930) [20:16]
Orchestra Sinfonica RAI Rome/Milton Forstat, recorded 1 July 1960
Salvatore ALLEGRA (1898-1993)
Violinata alla luna per violino e orchestra [4:48]
Il Pastore errante per violino e orchestra [4:52]
Orchestra Alessandro Scarlatti, Naples/Salvatore Allegra, recorded 27 April 1973
Franco MANNINO (1924-2005)
Capriccio di Capricci (da Paganini due studi per orchestra di virtuosi) Op.50 (1969) [10:47]
Orchestra Sinfonica RAI Rome/Franco Mannino, recorded 19 April 1969
Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
“Nel cor più non mi sento” for solo violin, M.S.44 (1827) rev. Aldo Ferraresi [8:30]
Adagio e Tambourino arr Michelangelo Abbado, 1940 [3:48]
Le streghe, Op.8 M.S.19 (1813) arr. Fritz Kreisler [8:55]
Sonatina No.12 in E minor, Op.3 No.6, M.S.27 (1805-09)
Augusto Ferraresi (piano), recorded 1966, telecast recording, Rome

CD11
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Quintet in F minor, Op.34 (1864) [38:57]
Quartetto di San Remo, recorded 1963, Milan, studio recording
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Sonata No.9 Op.47 Kreutzer (1804) [30:45]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano) recorded 20 November 1970

CD12
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Sonata No. 1 in G major for Violin and Piano, Op. 78 (1879) [24:54]
Sonata No. 2 in A major for Violin and Piano, Op. 100 (1886) [18:21]
Sonata No. 3 in D minor for Violin and Piano, Op. 108 (1886-88) [19:53]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano), recorded telecasts March 1965 in Naples studios, with some damage and loss of bars in Sonatas 2 and 3

CD13
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Violin Sonata No.1 in A major, Op.13 (1876) [25:51]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano) recorded 21 July 1965
Eugene YSAŸE(1858-1931)
Poème élégiaque in D minor, Op.12 (1893) [15:40]
Chant d’hiver in B minor,Op.15 (1902) [10:01]
Divertimento Op.24 (1920-21) [8:14]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano) recorded 21 July 1965
Divertimento (Fantaisie for violin and orchestra), Op.24 (1920-21) [9:40]
Orchestra Sinfonica RAI Rome/Massimo Freccia, recorded 23 December 1964

CD14
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Violin Sonata Op.18 [28:27]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano) recorded 20 November 1970
Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)
Romanza Andaluza, Op.22 No.1 (1878) [5:02]
Augusto Ferraresi (piano), recorded 1963
Joaquin TURINA (1882-1949)
La Oración del Torero for violin and piano, Op.34 (1925) [8:19]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano) recorded 12 May 1966
El Poema de una Sanluqueña, Op.28 (1923) [20:11]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano) recorded 12 May 1966

CD15
Franco ALFANO (1876-1954)
Violin Sonata (1923) [25:58]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano) recorded 10 December 1973
Mario GUARINO (1900-1973)
Violin Sonata [21:53]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano) recorded 12 April 1972
Karl HÖLLER (1908-1987)
Music for violin and piano Op.27 [23:55]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano) recorded 11 October 1971

CD16
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Prelude No.3 (1926) arr. Jascha Heifetz (1942) [1:18]
My man’s gone now from Porgy and Bess, arr. Jascha Heifetz (1944) [3:38]
It ain’t necessarily so, from Porgy and Bess, arr. Jascha Heifetz (1944) [2:39]
Prelude No.1 (1926) arr. Jascha Heifetz (1940) [1:27]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Images, 1st Book: No.3 Mouvement arr. Samuel Dushkin [2:28]
Ballade, pour piano, arr. Louis Carembat (1924) [6:06]
La plus que lente, Valse arr Léon Roques [3:48]
Preludes, Book I, No.8: La fille aux cheveux de lin, arr Arthur Hartmann [2:21]
Leopold GODOWSKY (1870-1938)
12 Impressions: No.12 Wienerische, in F major [4:00]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Grave in the style of W.F.Bach (1911) [4:30]
Gypsy Caprice (1927) [4:41]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Sonatine. II Mouvement de Menuet arr. Léon Roques [3:09]
Christoph Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1897)
Mélodie (Dance of the blessed spirits) from Orfeo and Euridice arr Fritz Kreisler (1913) [3:02]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Danse russe from Petrouchka arr Samuel Dushkin [2:35]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Violin sonata in D minor, Op.10 No.3: III Rondo arr.Jascha Heifetz (1933) [3:02]
Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906)
Violin Concerto in A minor, Op.54: III Tempo di Valse arr.Jascha Heifetz (1950s) [3:46]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Slavonic dance No.3 in G major, Op.72 No.8 arr.Fritz Kreisler (1914) [4:15]
Songs my mother taught me, Op.55 No.4 arr.Fritz Kreisler (1914) [2:37]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
On wings of song: Op.34 No.2 arr Joseph Achron ed Jascha Heifetz (1933) [3:43]
Gennaro NAPOLI (1881-1943)
Aria [4:58]
Joseph ACHRON (1886-1943)
2 Stimmungen, Op.32: No.1 Andantino malinconico (1910) [2:27]
Ernesto Galdieri (piano) recorded 1956, Milan for LPs

CD17
Antonio BAZZINI (1818-1897)
Le Ronde de lutins Op.25 [3:04]
Prospero Ferraresi (piano), recorded 1929
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)-
Charles GOUNOD Ave Maria, Meditation on Prelude No.1 in C major WTC1 [4:34]
Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Le streghe, Op.8 M.S.19 (1813) arr.Fritz Kreisler: Part 1 only [4:50]
Carlo Vidusso (piano), recorded 1929
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)-
Charles GOUNOD Ave Maria, Meditation on Prelude No.1 in C major WTC1 [4:29]
Enrica Alberti (soprano)/Carlo Vidusso (piano), recorded 1929
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Méditation from Thaïs arr.Martin Marsick [4:19]
Carlo Vidusso (piano), recorded 1929
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Liebesträume: Nocturne No.3 in A flat major, S.541/3 arr. Joseph Achron [4:43]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Der Rosenkavalier, Op.59, Act III: Waltz Sequence No.2 arr. Vaša Příhoda [4:44]
Giorgio Favaretto (piano), recorded 1943
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
String Quartet No.1 in D major, Op.11: II Andante cantabile (1871) [7:00]
Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887)
String Quartet No.2 in D major: III. Nocturne. Andante (1881) [6:37]
Quartetto di San Remo, recorded 1934


CD18
Aldo Ferraresi in his own words; remembering his youth, his career and his time with Eugène Ysaÿe; spoken reminiscences by Aldo Ferraresi from the mid-1970s [52:20]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Ave Maria, Op.52 No.2, D839 (1825) arr, Aldo Ferraresi [4:31]



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