Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Joachim Raff, Eric Le Van|
Raff: Sonatillen, Op. 99; Morceaux, Op. 85
Listen to Samples
Enjoyable listening on this excellent Raff disk
Robert Coulter | Delaware, USA | 05/18/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Joachim Raff died in 1882 he was among the most famous composers in the world, with a reputation equal to those of Brahms and Wagner. From that point on, however, his star waned until by the 1970's he had fallen into absolute obscurity. Since then, and particularly in the last decade or so, a slow revival of his reputation has taken place. For example, there are now two complete cycles of his 11 symphonies available, as well as a good cross-section of his chamber works -- the two labels involved, Tudor and CPO, deserve a great deal of credit for their efforts in resuscitating Raff's legacy.
Raff's music is often almost immediately approachable, full of catchy, lyrical melodies. There is a positive feel to his music, a hint of gaiety always near the surface. His approach to composition was, at least in part, that music should be enjoyable to listen to, not necessarily a tax on our ears or a challenge to our intellect. Personally, I find him a joy to listen to. It is very easy to understand why he was so popular in the concert halls of his day and much harder to fathom why we so rarely see him in the concert halls of our day (in fact, I have never seen a live performance of any of his works).
The two pieces on this Tudor release are excellent examples of Raff's charming, elegant style. The first, the Op.99 Ten Sonatillen are transcriptions by Raff of an earlier set of piano sonatas but you wouldn't know it from listening. The ten small pieces vary widely in style and mood, but never lack for quality or interest. Though in the same salon style as the morceaux, there is a little more bite in the sonatillen, a little more edge. The Six Morceaux for violin and piano, Op.85, are undeniably written to be salon pieces, light and attractive to the ear. The set contains the only piece of Raff's music which continued to be performed long after all his other music had been forgotten -- the Cavatina. And so what if they are salon music? They still constitute beautiful music, worth hearing. Indeed, this is a disk I find myself returning to again and again; definitely one of my favourite disks. Neftel (violin) and Le Van (piano -- who has since recorded a critically acclaimed set of Scriabin's complete mazurkas) give first rate performances of both pieces in excellent sound.
Its clear from a study of his orchestral works, say, that Raff isn't really in the same league as Brahms and Wagner, whatever his reputation when alive, but then, very few are. On the other hand, its equally clear that his legacy deserves far better than it has so far received. Certainly, his continued absence from the concert halls and (in many cases) our music collections is our loss. This cd is a great example of the music we are missing. While most of us have no chance of rectifying the lack of Raff in the concert hall, you can start (continue) rectifying the hole in your music collection with this really enjoyable disk."