Wolf-Ferrari - Orchestral Works
This well filled disc duplicates exactly the same repertoire that appeared on a 1993 recording with the Royal Philharmonic under José Serebrier (ASV, 9/93) but with the additions of the intermezzi from Il segreto di Susanna and L’amore medico, and the unusual Suite-Concertino for bassoon and orchestra, which appears to have been recorded only once before. Writing in a neo-classical style more than a decade before Stravinsky made it fashionable, Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) preferred Cimarosa, Mozart and Rossini for his role models rather than Verdi or Wagner.
Today he has become little more than a two-hit wonder: the sparkling little overture to his one-act opera buffa Susanna’s Secret is a masterpiece of its kind, while the Serenata from his single verismo opera The Jewels of the Madonna is one of those pieces that is so well known it can drive you mad trying to remember what it’s called (it is based on Rafaele’s lively waltz-like serenade “Aprila, o bella, le fenestrella”).
In truth, these two are so immediately appealing that nothing else quite matches up to them, though the “Festa popolare” from The Jewels comes close (its opening sounds like something by Eric Coates). The four-movement Suite-Concertino (1932) sounds promising, but in all honesty I found it pretty dreary going until the finale which, however, is well worth a hearing and despatched with nimble panache by the talented Karen Geoghegan.
Noseda adopts generally brisker tempi than Serebrier and, with Chandos’s brighter recorded sound and extra items, is the preferred choice.