Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Brooding, bubbly chamber music from Naples

The chamber music of the late romantic Italian composer Giuseppe Martucci is new to me, and it was a pleasant surprise. It has an appealing sound that's a mixture of brooding Wagner and bubbly Verdi. This is open and honest music, music that wears its heart on its sleeve. The early string quartet works on the second disc of this Brilliant Classics release (due December 9, 2016) are light salon pieces without too much serious content, and are played here by the Quartetto Noferini with perhaps not quite as light a touch as they require. I loved the Handel pieces that end the album, transcribed with love and wit by Martucci.

The Piano Quintet, and especially the two Piano Trios, though, are at the same time more passionate and more erudite. As with many romantic pieces, Brahms and Schumann especially, the cello carries much of the emotional argument, with the virtuosic piano part, reflecting Martucci's own significant performance skills, often providing commentary. Pianist Maria Semeraro's keyboard skills are up to the task, but the bass-heavy recording doesn't perhaps give us the best sound picture of the full ensemble, especially in the Quintet. The Scherzo movements of both Piano Trios are standouts, with echoes, I learned from cellist Andrea Noferini's liner essay, of south Italian bagpipe music. Recommended!

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