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Wolf-Ferrari: Capolavori del '900 per Oboe; Cimarosa, Pedrollo / Baccini

Release Date: 01/08/2008 
Label:  Tactus   Catalog #: 872301   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ermanno Wolf-FerrariDomenico CimarosaArrigo Pedrollo
Performer:  Alessandro Baccini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Adria Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

WOLF-FERRARI Concertino in A, “Idillio.” English Horn Concertino. CIMAROSA (arr. Benjamin) Oboe Concerto. PEDROLLO Oboe Concertino Allessandro Baccini (ob, Eh); Giorgio Fabbri, cond; City of Adria PO TACTUS 872301 (68.31)

The main attraction here is Read more Wolf-Ferrari’s delightful “Idillio” Concertino, written in 1932, after the German-Italian composer had earned an international reputation with a series of acclaimed operas. The aptly nicknamed “Idillio” Concertino offers barely a hint of the turmoil then raging in the musical sphere or of the impending conflagration that would soon consume the author’s dual homelands. The wistful third-movement Adagio is clearly overruled by the cheerful quality of the other three movements. I can’t imagine that general audiences would not respond appreciatively if this piece were more frequently programmed for live concerts.

The so-called Cimarosa Concerto, arrangements by Arthur Benjamin of four short pieces plucked from obscurity, is the best known of a number of similar compilations made in the middle of the last century, mostly for oboist Evelyn Rothwell, wife of conductor John Barbirolli. It owes more to the example of Ottorino Respighi than to Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and, like the “Idillio” Concertino, poses no difficulties to reluctant audiences. In fact, it played a significant role, I’m sure, in the revival of interest in the oboe as a solo instrument.

By 1947, Wolf-Ferrari’s world, and—in a sense—his place in its musical firmament, had come crashing down around him. The Concertino for English horn, strings, and horns was his final composition, perhaps a forlorn last attempt to reintroduce and ingratiate himself to his disappearing following. It has a more serious mien than the light-hearted “Idillio” (or most of his signature comic operas), but it was obviously intended for traditionalist audiences, whom he did not disappoint.

For the curious, however, the Pedrollo Concertino may be the most intriguing item on the disc. Arrigo Pedrollo (1878–1964) was a near contemporary not only of Wolf-Ferrari, but also of Respighi, Malipiero, et al. Initially touted as a natural successor to Mascagni—his first non-student work, a symphony, was premiered by Arturo Toscanini, no less—he composed 10 operas, but they betrayed a closer sympathy to Wagner than to his Italian predecessors. He eventually took up an academic life and faded from the spotlight. His Concertino was a late work (1960), and like the second Wolf-Ferrari concertino, has a sterner aspect than the “Idillio.” Allusions to the past figure prominently in the work, and, in fact, the second movement is entitled Canzone medioevale.

Alessandro Baccini’s recent recordings show him to be an adventurous and accomplished oboe recitalist. The current release will only further that impression. He has a sweetness of tone and ample facility to command attention. I did think that the Adagio of the “Idillio” tends to be a little static, but that is a small quibble on an otherwise successful recording.

I’ve accumulated five recordings of the “Idillio” Concertino, of which I tend to favor, marginally, Andrea Gullickson on Cala. The Cimarosa-Benjamin pastiche is widely available. The English Horn Concertino was recorded by Lajos Lensces on a Colosseum LP, which may or may not have been transferred to CD, and by Omar Zoboli for Koch Schwann. Amazingly, I found, tucked away on a much-neglected shelf, a prior recording of the Pedrollo, on an MHS LP by Pierre Pierlot. But you can’t go wrong on any of the pieces with Baccini’s new release.

FANFARE: George Chien

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Works on This Recording

Concertino for Oboe, 2 Horns and Strings in A major, Op. 15 "Idillio" by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari
Performer:  Alessandro Baccini (Oboe)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Adria Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1933; Italy 
Concerto for Oboe in C major by Domenico Cimarosa
Performer:  Alessandro Baccini (Oboe)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Adria Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: Italy 
Notes: Arranger: Arthur Benjamin. 
Concertino for Oboe by Arrigo Pedrollo
Performer:  Alessandro Baccini (Oboe)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Adria Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960 

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