Wolf-Ferrari is best known as an opera composer, but his first publications were chamber works – a field in which he achieved far more than mere competence. This latest release amply shows his fluent invention and abounding musical sensitivity. Though not profound music, the lush Romantic textures, expressive melodies and engaging virtuosity make a compelling mixture. Moreover, the beautifully accomplished artistry of the musicians recorded here consistently releases this repertoire’s potent charms.
The Munich Piano Trio gives impressively committed performances of the two Piano Trios. Both pieces contain much beyond the ordinary. This is unmistakably salon music, but of quite outstanding quality. The group’s exquisite technical precision winningly communicates the startling dramatic variety in the outer movements and the warm Romantic lyricism in the slow ones.
The Leopold Quartet’s delightful account of the Piano Quintet with Wolfgang Sawallisch on piano is likewise effective. Excellent recording presents the ensemble in perfect balance, and structural shortcomings (such as the gratuitous harmonic surprises) are far outweighed by the score’s beguiling mix of fragrant melodiousness and sparkling vitality.
Finally, the Leopold Quartet with Fritz Ruf on viola highlight the best qualities of Wolf-Ferrari’s C major String Quintet, fully savouring its brilliant display and heartfelt songfulness. Nicholas Rast