CORELLI: Concerto grosso in D, Op. 6 No. 1. Concerto grosso in C minor,
Op. 6 No. 3. Sonata a quattro in D for Trumpet and Strings. Concerto grosso
in G minor, Op. 6 No. 8. Concerto grosso in F, Op. 6 No. 9. Concerto grosso
in C, Op. 6 No. 10. Concerto grosso in B flat, Op. 6 No. 11. Sonata for
Violin and Harpsichord in D minor, Op. 5 No. 12 "La Follia." Concerto grosso
in F, Op. 6 No. 12.
MOZART: Quartet No. 14 in G, K. 387 "Spring." Quartet No. 15 in D minor,
K. 421. Quartet No. 16 in E flat, K. 428. Quartet No. 17 in B flat, K.
458 "Hunt." Quartet No. 18 in A, K. 464. Quartet No. 19 in C, K. 465
WOLF-FERRARI: La vedova scaltra
Chamber music lovers will welcome the first two DVDs above. For decades collectors have enjoyed the multitude of recordings of baroque music by I Solisti Veneti and their conductor, Claudio Scimone. This is their fourth DVD and it offers seven of the concerti grossi from Corelli's Op. 6 as well as a sonata for trumpet and strings and the famous sonata for violin and harpsichord known as La Follia. All of these were recorded at the Basilica di San Marco in Rome October 15, 1986, without an audience. Resonant acoustics of the venue have not been totally tamed by the recording staff—sound is rich but rather undefined. DVD documentation is limited to two pages of information about the composer but not about these specific works. The Euroarts issue of Mozart's "Haydn" quartets is of equal interest. The Hagen Quartet is famous for their earlier audio recordings of this music, and now we have these live recordings made during a concert in Vienna's Mozarteum January 26, 1998. Horant H. Hohlfeld provides appropriate video images of the foursome, audio is excellent, and the two disks sell for the price of one.
Ermano Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) is best-known for orchestral excerpts from his comic operas, particularly The Jewels of the Madonna and The Secret of Suzanne, although recently the ninth of his thirteen operas, Sly, a tragic opera with a plot about a disillusioned suicidal drunk, had a bit of a revival thanks to the efforts of José Carreras and Plácido Domingo. With his next opera, La vedova scaltra, Wolf-Ferrari returned to comedy. Written in 1931, "The Cunning Widow" is about the recently widowed Rosaura who is being courted by four suitors. With the help of her French maid, Marionette, she devises a plan to test the four to find out which one really loves her. The score surely is pleasant but the music is unmemorable. It's surprising this comic opera has no overture. However, it is a showcase for the two leading sopranos, Anne-Lise Sollied and Elena Rossi, both of whom give brilliant performances. With the exception of Mark Milhofer whose voice has more unsteadiness than I care to hear, the male singers are excellent, and conductor Karl Martin keeps things moving. Video and audio are excellent, but this is an opera of limited interest.
R.E.B. (June 2008)