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RAFF, Joachim (1822-1882)

PIANO WORKS • 4

LA CICERENELLA, OP. 165 • 12 ROMANCES EN FORME D’ETUDES, OP. 8 • 2 PIECES, OP. 166 • ALLEGRO AGITATO, OP. 151


  • Tra Nguyen, piano

Volume 4 of the Piano Music series traces Raff from youth to maturity. Douze Romances en forme d’études, Op. 8 was written when he was just 21 and unsure whether to commit himself to full-time composition. Mendelssohn was so impressed by this set of charming character pieces that he recommended them to his own publisher. The much later 1871 La Cicerenella – Nouveau Carnaval, Op. 165 is a set of virtuoso variations, whilst the Two Pieces, Op. 166 offer both charm and melodic distinction.

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Tracklist

 
La cicerenella, Op. 165 (1871) (00:08:17 )
1
Presto (Capriccioso) - La Cicerenella - Variation 1 (00:01:48)
2
Variation 2 (00:00:28)
3
Variation 3 (00:00:25)
4
Variation 4 (00:00:26)
5
Variation 5 (00:00:36)
6
Variation 6 (00:00:20)
7
Variation 7 (00:00:23)
8
Variation 8: Più mosso (00:00:20)
9
Variation 9: Ancora più mosso (00:00:26)
10
Variation 10: Larghetto (00:01:49)
11
Variation 11: Presto (00:00:12)
12
Variation 12 (00:00:12)
13
Variation 13 e coda - prestissimo (00:00:45)
 
12 romances en forme d'etudes, Op. 8 (1843) (00:36:07 )
14
No. 1. L'Abbandonata: Allegro moderato (00:02:58)
15
No. 2. Pastorale: Andante (00:02:41)
16
No. 3. Il Fuggitivo: Allegro agitato quasi presto (00:00:55)
17
No. 4. L'Amicizia: Andantino (00:02:22)
18
No. 5. Il Pianto dell' Amante: Adagio ma non troppo (00:04:51)
19
No. 6. Il Delirio: Allegro molto agitato cioe smanioso (00:02:31)
20
No. 7. Barcarola: Allegretto (00:02:41)
21
No. 8. Preghiera: Andante religioso (00:03:12)
22
No. 9. Il Gladiatori: Presto di bravura (00:01:55)
23
No. 10. Mazurka: Allegro moderato (00:03:22)
24
No. 11. La Contentezza: Andante (00:02:09)
25
No. 12. Polonaise: Alla Polacca (00:04:53)
 
2 pieces, Op. 166 (1871) (00:10:30 )
26
No. 1. Idylle: Andante (00:04:56)
27
No. 2. Valse Champetre: Allegro (00:05:36)
28
Allegro agitato, Op. 151 (1868) (00:05:27)
World Première Recording
Total Time: 00:58:39

The Artist

British-Vietnamese Tra Nguyen’s imaginative programming balances core repertoire and lesser-known music, winning critical praise. Her discography introduces many world première recordings of neglected music. Her recordings of Joachim Raff’s piano music have earned wide critical acclaim, including Album of the Week awards by The Independent. Tra Nguyen studied with Lev Naumov at the Moscow Conservatory and with Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music where she received the Academy’s highest award for her final recital. She was awarded the ARAM (Associate of the Royal Academy of Music) for her “significant contribution to the music profession” in 2013.

The Composer

Joachim Raff enjoyed the highest reputation in his lifetime but was later remembered only for his famous Cavatina, an attractive short piece that appeared in many arrangements. Encouraged by Mendelssohn and then by Liszt, he served the latter as an assistant at Weimar, orchestrating Liszt’s earlier symphonic poems. His own work as a composer started in earnest when he left Weimar in 1856, to settle in Wiesbaden and then, from 1877, in Frankfurt as director of the Hoch Conservatory, a position he retained until his death in 1882.

Orchestral Music

Recent attempts have been made to reassess Raff’s music. His 11 symphonies go some way towards a synthesis of pure music and the programmatic element of the Neo-German school exemplified in the symphonic poems of Liszt. Most of the symphonies have titles of one sort or another, the last four representing aspects of the four seasons. He wrote concertos for piano, for violin and for cello, and other works for solo instrument and orchestra, as well as a series of suites and overtures.

Chamber Music

Raff contributed to the repertoire of German chamber music with works ranging from piano quintets to duo sonatas, the last including five sonatas for violin and piano.

Piano Music

Equally prolific in his work for the piano, Raff wrote a large number of shorter pieces, as well as transcriptions and fantasies derived from the current operatic repertoire.

Vocal and Choral Music

In addition to works for choir, including several psalm settings, Raff published four volumes of part-songs, three of them for male voices.

Opera

Raff enjoyed some success with his first opera, König Alfred, first staged in Weimar in 1853. One other of his six operas, Dame Kobold, received some contemporary attention.

Reviews

“Ms. Nguyen has an attractive, pellucid tone quality that brings out Raff’s virtues… ” – American Record Guide

“There should be no waverers when it comes to either Raff or Nguyen. ” – MusicWeb International