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Terry Barfoot
MusicWeb International, January 2013

…Wolf-Ferrari…was one of the first Italian composers to turn from romanticism and towards neo-classicism. In this sense these delightful wind concertos suit him admirably. This is urbane and civilised music, beautifully crafted and superbly balanced.

Two of these pieces date from the early thirties, whereas the Concertino for Cor Anglais dates from Wolf-Ferrari’s last year and was premiered in 1955, seven years after his death. There is little difference in the musical language adopted by the individual pieces, since each is neo-classical in structure while possessing a warmly romantic harmonic characteristic. These Naxos performances are nicely rounded, and so too is the recorded sound… © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, January 2013

All three of these concertinos are delightful, but I must give special kudos to the Suite-Concertino, which presents the bassoon in a most romantic light.

…the Rome Symphony Orchestra…does well with this music, as do the three soloists…Warmly recommended… © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Merlin Patterson
Fanfare, January 2013

This music is pure delight! These three works are tuneful, well constructed, and concisely developed solo vehicles for instruments that rarely get the spotlight to themselves.

The Idillio for oboe and the Suite for bassoon…are filled with joyful, exuberant music that dances gracefully on the ear. Each also possesses a beautiful slow movement. The Concertino for English horn…is a bit more somber and melancholy. Though it contains three rapturous slow movements, it still has enough virtuosity to allow the soloist to show off his technical prowess.

Each soloist is a principal in the Rome Symphony Orchestra and is truly a master of his respective instrument. They all play in a singing “bel canto” style and have virtuosity to burn. This music has been recorded previously, but this new release from Naxos surpasses all prior efforts in every department, especially the orchestral contribution by the Rome Symphony conducted by Francesco La Vecchia. What’s not to love? © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

John Whitmore
MusicWeb International, December 2012

The music is all very charming and tuneful…what we have here…is a disc containing well-crafted music with underlying elegiac, wistful feelings in the slow movements and a Rossini-like sparkle in the faster passages.

The performances are first class and the orchestra plays with great spirit. It is…very lush and enticing to listen to and conductor Francesco La Vecchia provides fine support for his soloists, all of whom are members of his most accomplished Rome orchestra. The recording quality is natural and warm with soloists set forward. The solo playing is excellent…

To sum up, this is 77 minutes of sheer joy…you can’t help but smile when you listen to it. Give it a try. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

John Sheppard
MusicWeb International, October 2012

Each of the three works here is for a solo wind instrument and small orchestra, is entitled or sub-titled Concertino, and is in four movements. The predominant form is gently neo-classical alternating with more lyrical movements, usually with a strong tinge of regret. At the same time each Concertino does have a distinct character deriving from the tonal characteristics of the instrument concerned. That for bassoon, treated more as Don Quixote than Sancho Panza, is probably the most memorable, especially for the penultimate Canzone, but all are enjoyable…

All three soloists have the necessary virtuosity and, more important, flexibility and lyricism. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review, September 2012

…Wolf-Ferrari…composed some very worthy pieces, including three wind concertinos. All get very fine performances on a new Naxos CD; and all have a similar enough sound so that the Wolf-Ferrari style comes through clearly. The oboe concertino, called Idillio, is in fact idyllic. It is essentially a three-movement pastoral work, setting the soloist against an ensemble of strings and two horns…Even the slow movement is more dreamy than profound, somewhat melancholic but never depressive, and whatever clouds it brings are dispelled in the bright and lively finale. The work dates to 1932; a year later came what Wolf-Ferrari called a Suite-concertino for bassoon and the same small orchestra, once again offering a dreamlike and lyrical scenario throughout, withholding the comic and playful sound usually associated with the bassoon until the finale rondo. And then in 1947, the year before his death, Wolf-Ferrari wrote a third concertino…This work has some intriguing structural elements—for example, there is little dialogue between soloist and orchestra in the first movement but a great deal of it in the second, and Wolf-Ferrari’s operatic verismo roots show through in the third, which is marked Canzone. Somewhat more intense than the other concertinos, the one for cor anglais nevertheless ends in a similarly upbeat way with a humorous rondo—although this one does have some dramatic elements as well. The three pieces, taken together in this very well-played recording, show a side of Wolf-Ferrari that will expand the musical horizons of listeners who know him only through opera. © 2012 Read complete review

David Hurwitz, August 2012

These performances…are as fine as any in the catalog. Andrea Tenaglia, in particular, is a fine oboe soloist, with a sweet tone that captures the “idyllic” qualities of the music particularly well. Giuseppe Ciabocchi’s bassoon playing is admirable as well.

…Rome Symphony Orchestra under Francesco La Vecchia offers the best accompaniments on disc…this disc is your best bet, on balance. © 2012 Read complete review

Christie Grimstad, August 2012

What one will find is an extraordinary sampling that highlights three soothing woodwinds with gradient levels of octave range…It’s a grand educational exposé for musically-minded students, but it is also a great revisit for those heavily educated in the background of early 20th century classical music with underpinnings of the Baroque and Classical styles. This sampling is superior.

William Moriconi’s tonal display on the Cor anglais evinces a deepened, yet softened approach to Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s 1947 composition. It is sincere, light, and approachable. “Capriccio” aptly describes the Concertino’s second movement with a flitter of unexpected delight. The conclusive “Finale” gives way to a more optimistic response from earlier movements, and Moriconi has connective insights into using the Cor anglais to mark Wolf-Ferrari’s score with a ray of brilliance.

Listening to the bassoon can be compared to that of a mature adult. There is a dignified grounding and seasoned flair with reflections of tonal cohesiveness that’s well captured with kindness and respect by Giuseppe Ciabocchi.

…the abbreviated ¾ time “Strimpellata”…[is] ringing with dance-like rhythms, yet pausing for clauses or orchestral flavor that’s indicative of operatic magic. The second movement is the most satisfying display of perk and punch. We reflect back to pensiveness in the subsequent “Canzone” that has Ciabocchi in full command of unparalleled musical fluency. The “Finale” ends the Suite-concertino with fulfilling happiness and optimism with gradient dignity.

…this is the beauty found within Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, for he has a respectful foundation of classical traditions, veiled in modernistic values. This superbly catalogued selection of Wolf-Ferrari’s woodwind/orchestral compositions is top notch. © 2012 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2012

A delightful disc of music by Emmanno Wolf-Ferrari, a name teetering on the brink of obscurity, his Italian birth and a life in Germany placing him in no man’s land. His operas still get an occasional airing, though their once highly popular Intermezzos have almost lost their place in the light-music concert world. That dual ‘nationality’ having so confused everyone by having his operas known by both their Italian and German names, and eventually they became known by their English translation. At both ends of his career he was involved in instrumental music, and had long since completed his popular operas, School for Fathers, Susanna’s Secret and Jewels of the Madonna, before he embarked on his three concertinos for woodwind instruments. The Idillo-concertino for oboe came first in 1932, composed in a style outdated by the turn of the century. Full of lyric themes following on from his opera days, the perky outer movements make such a happy experience. That is highlighted here by the spicy tone of the soloist, Andrea Tenaglia. The year following came the Suite-concertino for bassoon, also for chamber orchestra, the mood of the music reflecting the deep and often melancholy sounds of the instrument. The opening Notturno is almost as long as the remaining three movements, its bubbly finale a very likeable piece. But the gem is the delightful Cor Anglais Concertino composed in 1947, the year before his death. It takes us back to the witty School for Fathers, and I commend it to all players of the instrument—it is a little darling. William Moriconi,—all three soloists coming from the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma, here conducted by Francesco La Vecchia—has a most attractive tonal quality and plays it with obvious affection…the disc is much recommended. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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