Wolf-Ferrari: Piano Quintet, Cello Sonata, Duo

Wolf-Ferrari: Piano Quintet, Cello Sonata, Duo
Composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari
Artist Quartetto Guadagnini
Costantino Catena piano
Amedo Cicchese cello
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 96590
EAN code 5028421965901
Release July 2022

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About this release

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) is a composer difficult to classify. As the son of a German father and an Italian mother from an aristocratic family, he was born in Venice and went to study in Munich. He became famous as a composer for the stage with works such as Il Segreto di Susanna and I gioielli della Madonna. His name is now emerging from the shadow cast by his wartime collaboration with Italy’s Fascist regime, and a series of albums on Brilliant Classics have revealed his gifts as a composer of chamber and instrumental music, including violin sonatas (96093), piano trios (95624) and a sequence of his piano works (95868).

Following on from the piano trios, the Piano Quintet Op.6 dates from 1900. Some of the cantabile melodies may remind us of Brahms, and the delicately embroidered harmony of Hugo Wolf, but Wolf-Ferrari’s characteristic sweetness of tone does not descend into decorative mannerism or affected sentimentalism: he was, to the core, a German-Italian composer with a foot on both sides of the Alps. More than any other of his early chamber works, the Piano Quintet successfully embodies his declared aim as a composer, to create a “universal beauty” where no rules apply, but only a feeling of well-being and sensuousness – especially in the ebullient Scherzo and Trio.

The Cello Sonata (1945) and Duo for violin and cello (1946) share the Romantic language of his early chamber music, but now refined by an escapist mode of neo-classicism, particularly in the lively dialogue of the Duo. The Cello Sonata is imbued with a gentle radiance throughout its brief, traditionally structured quarter-hour duration, drawing on a nostalgic vein of expression which comes naturally to the cello, and including literal echoes of Brahms in the slow movement.

Previous albums in this Brilliant Classics series have also featured Italian pianist Costantino Catena, of whom the Italian classical magazine Amadeus wrote: ‘A pianist rare in his generation, in him shining above all the art of singing on the keyboard with an inventiveness of phrasing that demonstrates his exquisite musical intelligence.’

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) is a composer difficult to classify. A child of his time he kept aloof from the innovations of the modernists and dodecaphony. As son of a German father and a noble-born Venetian mother he was born in Venice and went to study in Munich. He became famous as an opera composer. His style is romantic, tinged with impressionism and the odd neoclassical hint. His aim was to create a “universal beauty” in his works, where no rules apply, but only a feeling of well-being and sensuousness.
This new recording is a new instalment of the recording project of the complete Chamber Music by Wolf Ferrari. Presented here are the Piano Quintet, a masterpiece of Brahmsian proportions and impact, the Cello Sonata, full of nostalgic italianate lyricism, and the Duo for Violin and Cello, a forceful dialogue full of wit and lightness.
Played by the Guadagnini Quartet, Amedeo Cicchese (cello) and pianist Costantino Catena, who is the binding force in this recording project of considerable importance.

Critical praise for Wolf-Ferrari’s Violin Sonatas on Brilliant Classics:

‘Davide Alogna and Costantino Catena prove persuasive advocates for this neglected music. Their partnership is well-balanced and their reading of these three sonatas respects their qualities without giving into any temptation to make excessive claims for them.’ MusicWeb International

‘The soaring melodic line aches for rapture, almost Wagnerian, in [Costantino] Catena’s commanding, sweeping figures… a compressed amalgam of Wolf-Ferrari’s virtues as a first-class inventor of sturdy and compelling chamber music.’ Fanfare

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Piano Quintet in D-Flat Major, Op. 6: I. Tranquillo ed espressivo
  2. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Piano Quintet in D-Flat Major, Op. 6: II. Canzone
  3. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Piano Quintet in D-Flat Major, Op. 6: III. Capriccio
  4. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Piano Quintet in D-Flat Major, Op. 6: IV. Finale
  5. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Duo for Violin and Cello in G Minor, Op. 33
  6. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Major, Op. 30: I. Allegro tranquillo
  7. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Major, Op. 30: II. Largo
  8. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Major, Op. 30: III. Allegro