Wolf-Ferrari: The two piano trios (Brilliant Classics)
★★★★★ (out of five)
Universally popular in the first half of the 20th-century, the music of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari has vanished into thin air. A Venetian of German ancestry and education, Wolf-Ferrari rejected modernism and allowed himself to become — along with Mascagni, Repighi, Malipiero and most Italian composers — a cultural poster-boy for the Mussolini regime. This affiliation accelerated his reputational decline after 1945; he died three years later.
But there is nothing ideological about his music. Nor is it in any sense reactionary. On the contrary, Wolf-Ferrari wrote romantic music because that is all he was equipped to do and he did it with an organic simplicity that intellectual contemporaries like Busoni could merely stand back and admire.
The two trios, dating from the turn of the century when he was in his twenties, put an instant summer’s smiley on the sourest of faces. The gift for melody is abundant and the interaction of piano, violin and cello is as infectious and irresistible as a well-made goal in football. Barely half of an hour-long, either of these trios will make your day. The Trio Archè’s playing matches the music in its effortless charm. Go on, treat yourself.
Wolf-Ferrari: The two piano trios is available at Amazon.