Wolf-Ferrari Violin Concerto: an Italian Premiere

ItalyItaly Wolf-Ferrari:  Laura Marzadori (violinist), Orchestra Citta di Ferrara, Marco Zuccarini (conductor ), Teatro Comunale, Ferrara, Italy, 14.4,2012 (ALP)

Wolf-Ferrari: Violin Concerto

At last! On Saturday April 14, 2012, in Ferrara City Theatre a concert was devoted wholly to the works of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (Venice, 1876-1948), known throughout the world for his brilliant operas I quatro rusteghi, Il Campiello, Sly and many others. His musical studies with Joseph Rheinberger, in Munich, informed his juvenile Sérénade in E flat major for strings, composed in 1893 when he was 17 years of age. It was performed in the first part of this interesting Ferrara concert.

The second part was dedicated to the Violin Concerto in D major op.26 in its Italian première: a Concerto of wide imagination and deep inspiration, until now totally forgotten in Italy. The Concerto was the result of a close collaboration between the composer and one of the most exciting violinists of the time, Guila Bustabo (1916-2002), to whom the score is dedicated: “in segno di profonda gratitudine ed ammirazione per la sua arte superba”.

The work was premièred in January 1944 in the Munich Tonhalle by the dedicatee under the baton of Oswald Kabasta. Writing a Violin Concerto so wholly at odds with the times was definitely a courageous and independent choice. But the Concerto, in fact, revisits styles, models and aesthetics that had characterized Wolf-Ferrari’s works since the beginning: Mozart and Viennese Classicism, Beethoven and Brahms’s Romantic ardour, the harmonic boldness of Strauss and Wagner, and themes from European folklore.

The young soloist, 23 year old Laura Marzadori, a product of Salvatore Accardo’s violin school, succeeded in offering a totally convincing interpretation of the Concerto, with elegant and fascinating phrasing that proved energetic and intense when necessary. So the concerto, so rich in various colours and characterisation, and lasting approximately 37 minutes, emerged brilliantly unified. In the first movement, aFantasia, she displayed an exceptionally powerful, and dominant reading of the numerous virtuoso passages and chords.The following slow movement, a Romanza, evoked a tender and amiable Mozartian atmosphere, whilst the following Improvviso was full of free and rhapsodic fluency. The last movement, a Rondo finale with a long cadenza, was brilliantly and joyously performed and the Paganinian virtuoso passages exceptionally surmounted by this wonderful young interpreter.

The Orchestra Città of Ferrara, perfectly conducted by Marco Zuccarini, accompanied the soloist with brilliant and refined sonorities, showing a perfect balance of dynamics in its exploration of the unusual textures of the Concerto.


Note: This review of an interesting and unusual concert was sent to us spontaneously by Ms. Lo Piccolo, an Italian musicologist. (Eds)

Annalisa Lo Piccolo