- Cello Concerto in C major "Invocazione" Op. 31
- Sinfonia Brevis in E flat major, Op. 28
Best-known for his early, successful operas "Le donne curiose," "I quattro rusteghi," and "Il segreto di Susanna," Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari is far less recognized as a composer of concertos and symphonic works. The "Cello Concerto in C major, Op. 31, Invocazione," and the "Sinfonia Brevis in E flat major, Op. 28," are late compositions composed during World War II when writing operas for the Munich stage was no longer possible. Yet Wolf-Ferrari, ever the late-Romantic vocal stylist, shaped the "Cello Concerto" and the "Sinfonia Brevis" along operatic lines; where these pieces lack conventional instrumental virtuosity or formal coherence, they nonetheless abound with passionate lyricism, charming scene painting, and nearly theatrical effects. Cellist Gustav Rivinius plays the rather melancholy concerto as if it were a series of recitatives and arias, and his solo part seems cast as a pensive monodrama. The Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alun Francis, provides intimate accompaniment, often entwined with the cello in conversational repartee. The brighter "Sinfonia Brevis," buoyantly performed by the RSOF, seems to be more of a comic opera without singers than a proper symphony, and the sentimental and humorous turns it takes could easily be imagined as scenes in a domestic farce, quite similar in effect to "Il segreto di Susanna." CPO's sound quality is exceptional.