Venice-born Wolf-Ferrari, who lived until 1948, was known for his chamber music as well as his operas. He hadn’t written any chamber works of the type on this disc until the 1930s. His style is light, melodic and sometimes almost filmic. In all three cases the orchestra is strings only, with two added French horns. The two oboe-family concertos are rather similar in having four movements and making the solo instrument an almost equal partner with the chamber orchestra rather than a spotlit virtuoso soloist. Both works have a rhapsodic and lyrical feeling and are generally of a cheerful nature. The English horn concerto was composed 15 years after the oboe concerto and only months before the composer’s death.
The Bassoon Concerto was for me the big attraction of this disc. It conjures up a 20th century neo-classical vision of Mozart’s serenades and often puts the bassoon in the role of a vocalist delivering an aria in an opera. It illustrates that the instrument has much more of a treble range than we might think (actually, Stravinsky demonstrated that some time ago in The Rite of Spring). The second, two-minute Presto movement is titled Stimpellata, which translates to “tinkling on the piano or scraping on the fiddle.” Both woodwind soloists are expert, and the fine 5.0 surround places their instruments dead center, with great presence on the orchestral soundstage.
– John Sunier