Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari is best known for his operas, particularly his comic operas. The same vein of light-hearted music with appealing, lyrical melodies run through this collection of his wind concertinos. The three works — Idillio-concertino in A for oboe; Concertino in A-flat for Cor angles and Suite-concertino in F for bassoon — feature a solo wind instrument backed by a small string orchestra. And all three share have the feeling of airiness and transparency.
Wolf-Ferrari composed these works between 1932 and 1947, but there’s no trace of German dodecophonic ideology here! Instead, Wolf-Ferrari music firmly rooted in neo-classical tradition without a whiff of 20th century angst or atonality.
The melodies given to the solo instruments are quite vocal in nature; not surprising, perhaps coming from an opera composer. The oboe, cor anglais, and bassoon are instruments that can use breath to articulate phrasing just like a singer. Like an opera singer, each instrument lingers lovingly over long notes, letting the sheer beauty of the sound carry the music. And for the particularly warm sound of the cor anglais and bassoon, those are welcome pauses, indeed.
Great music? Perhaps not. Great listening experience? Absolutely. This is accessible, good-natured music that can easily brighten one’s day. I know it brightened mine.
Ermanno Wolf-Ferarri: Wind Concertos for Oboe, Cor Anglais, Bassoon
Andrea Tenaglia, oboe; William Moriconi, cor angalis; Giuseppe Ciabocchi, bassoon; Orchestra Sinfonica di Roman Franchesco La Vecchia, conductor