Wolf-Ferrari: String Trios, Quartets & Quintet

Wolf-Ferrari: String Trios, Quartets & Quintet
Composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari
Artist Quartetto Eos
Trio David
Matteo Rocchi viola
Format 2 CD
Cat. number 96816
EAN code 5028421968162
Release August 2024

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About this release

Wolf-Ferrari was a composer of great artistic merit, Italian by nationality but raised in Germany, unfairly forgotten and deserving of rediscovery. His works meld compositional and spiritual elements with a preference for melodic purity and smooth harmonies, a passion for clear and linear forms inspired by Classical-era Vienna, and a meticulous approach. His aversion to complexity and his love of clarity and simplicity – as far removed from the operatic verismo movement as from the experiments of the avant-garde – meant he was, in a certain sense, an isolated figure, yet he knew that, despite the nostalgia in his writing, he had his own vibrant and original voice. His writing for strings displays expert compositional technique and a thorough technical knowledge of the instruments.

The youthful String Trio in B minor and the related String Trio in C minor are edited by Luca Incerti based on the manuscript held at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich (Mus. ms. 21366). The first trio is divided into three movements: Allegro, Larghetto and Scherzo (Allegro vivace). The second trio reuses the opening Allegro (raised to C minor) and Larghetto, adding a different ending in two new movements: Scherzo: Allegro molto and Adagio molto.
The String Trio in A minor (Op.32) is divided into three movements – Allegro moderato, Pastorale (Andante tranquillo) and Allegro – and was written in 1945, during the composer’s mature period.

The String Quartet in A minor was composed in 1894 and has also been edited by Luca Incerti, based on another manuscript held in Munich (Mus. ms. 23144-2). It comprises four movements: Allegro moderato, Adagio non troppo, Allegro vivacissimo and Allegro assai. The String Quartet in E minor is likewise split into four movements – Allegro, Andante cantabile, Capriccio (Allegro pesante) and Allegro – but its date of composition is unknown. However, by contrast it certainly stems from Wolf-Ferrari’s later years, when all the composer’s unique artistic traits came to the fore. As this quartet makes clear, in the context of the early 20th-century avant-garde, Wolf-Ferrari provided an alluring return to Classicism, but it was his own personal interpretation of the style, rather than an attempt to restore it. His neoclassicism appears more modern today than it would have done to his contemporaries. The String Quintet (2 violas) in C is recorded from another Luca Incerti edition, based on individual parts published by Thomi-Berg. It was written in 1942 and therefore belongs to the composer’s mature period. It has four movements: Allegro assai quasi presto, Larghetto, Prestissimo, and Molto mosso alla breve.

Other information:
- Recorded April 2023, Ariccia, Italy
- Booklet in English contains liner notes by Alberto Cima & Davide Alogna and profiles of the ensembles and additional players
- The Italian liner notes are available for download at www.brilliantclassics.com

- 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 installment of the recording project of the complete Chamber Music by Wolf Ferrari. Presented here are the String Trios, String Quartets and the String Quintet, music rooted in the late romantic German tradition, but full of nostalgic Italianate lyricism.
- Played by the Quartetto Eos and the Trio David.
- Critical praise for Wolf-Ferrari’s Violin Sonatas on Brilliant Classics (BC 96093): ‘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: String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 23: I. Allegro – Andante tranquillo
  2. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 23: II. Andante cantabile
  3. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 23: III. Capriccio. Allegro pesante
  4. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 23: IV. Allegro
  5. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quartet in A Minor (Unpublished, 1894): I. Allegro moderato
  6. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quartet in A Minor (Unpublished, 1894): II. Adagio non troppo
  7. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quartet in A Minor (Unpublished, 1894): III. Allegro vivacissimo
  8. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quartet in A Minor (Unpublished, 1894): IV. Finale. Allegro assai
  9. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quintet in C Major, Op. 24 (1942): I. Allegro assai quasi presto
  10. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quintet in C Major, Op. 24 (1942): II. Larghetto
  11. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quintet in C Major, Op. 24 (1942): III. Prestissimo
  12. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Quintet in C Major, Op. 24 (1942): IV. Molto mosso alla breve

Disk 2

  1. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Trio in B Minor (1894): I. Allegro
  2. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Trio in B Minor (1894): II. Larghetto
  3. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Trio in B Minor (1894): III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace
  4. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Trio in C Minor: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto
  5. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Trio in C Minor: IV. Adagio molto – Presto
  6. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Trio in A minor Op. 32 (Unpublished, 1945): I. Allegro moderato
  7. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Trio in A minor Op. 32 (Unpublished, 1945): II. Pastorale (andante tranquillo)
  8. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: String Trio in A minor Op. 32 (Unpublished, 1945): III. Allegro