Wolf-Ferrari: Idillio, Serenata, Suite (CD)

Brilliant Classics
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Nouva Orchestra Da Camera 'Ferruccio Busoni', Massimo Belli

Little-known but delightful instrumental treasures from the composer of ‘The Jewels of the Madonna’.

Given its colour by a pastorally evocative scoring of oboe and small orchestra, the Idillio Concertino lives up to its name with calm and gentle cantabile writing throughout in Wolf-Ferrari’s most neoclassical vein. The composer’s declared idol was Mozart, and all three of these works seek to recover something of a timeless beauty which many locate in Viennese Classicism. ‘When a piece of music touches our heart,’ said Wolf-Ferrari, ‘we do not need to understand why it does so: indeed it is something that should not be understood, even were it possible to do so. We do not need to be botanists to perceive the beauty of a forest! In art, it is sentiment, not reason, which determines [our reaction]. Art does not desire an audience of initiates, a congregation of the faithful, but a pure and open heart.’ This newly recorded album is for every listener who feels likewise.

The solo instrument for the Suite-Concertino is the bassoon, but the dreamy mood prevails in the long-breathed opening Nocturne, which is followed by a quick, strumming scherzo, a lovely heartfelt Canzone and a gentle concluding Andante.

This pair of concertos from 1933 is complemented by one of Wolf-Ferrari’s best-known instrumental works, the four-movement Serenade for Strings which dates from a full 40 years earlier, before the composer embarked on an operatic career. In this precociously mature work – written at the age of 17 – Mozart is even more clearly a guiding light, as indeed he was for the composer’s contemporary Busoni, who lends his name to this chamber orchestra based in the north-east of Italy.

Founded in 1965 by Aldo Belli, the Nouva Orchestra da Camera ‘Ferruccio Busoni’ boasts a distinguished discography such as the ‘Idyll’ album on Brilliant Classics (BC95199): ‘The chamber orchestra "Ferruccio Busoni", based in Trieste, northern Italy, plays the three gems with a great sense of elegance, a loving eye for the poetic subtleties of the pieces and not without a zest for life.’ (JPC – Leidenschaft für Musik, 2017)

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Idillio – Concertino in A Op.15 for oboe, strings and two horns (1933)
1. Preambolo 
2. Scherzo – Presto 
3. Adagio 
4. Rondò – Allegro non troppo 

Serenata for strings (1893)
5. Allegro 
6. Andante 
7. Scherzo – Presto 
8. Finale – Presto 

Suite – Concertino in F Op.16
for bassoon, strings and two horns (1933)
9. Notturno – Andante un poco mosso 
10. Strimpellata – Presto
11. Canzone – Andante Cantabile 
12. Finale – Andante con moto