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RAFF, Joachim (1822-1882)

PIANO WORKS • 2

FANTAISIE-SONATE, OP. 168 • VARIATIONEN ÜBER EIN ORIGINAL THEMA, OP. 179 • VIER KLAVIERSTÜCKE, OP. 196


  • Tra Nguyen, piano

Joachim Raff, Liszt’s amanuensis and confidante in Weimar, was one of Germany’s leading composers, a reputation based largely on his symphonic works. But he was prolific in other forms as well, excelling in chamber and vocal music, and especially in numerous and varied compositions for the piano. The three works on this second volume of Raff’s piano works come from the very pinnacle of his career. The 1871 Fantasie Sonata is a fascinating and richly imaginative hybrid, whilst the Variations on an Original Theme is marked by fertility of invention. The Four Piano Pieces exemplifies Raff’s gift for lyricism and characterisation.

Tracklist

 
Fantasie-Sonate, Op. 168 (1871) (00:17:41 )
1
I. Allegro patetico (00:06:47)
2
II. Largo (00:05:56)
3
III. Allegro molto (00:04:42)
 
Variationen uber ein Originalthema, Op. 179 (1873) (00:32:23 )
4
Andante * (00:01:02)
5
Thema * (00:00:40)
6
Variation 1: L'istesso tempo * (00:00:39)
7
Variation 2: L'istesso tempo * (00:00:34)
8
Variation 3: Allegro assai * (00:00:24)
9
Variation 4: L'istesso tempo * (00:00:29)
10
Variation 5: Meno mosso * (00:00:49)
11
Variation 6: L'istesso tempo * (00:00:45)
12
Variation 7: L'istesso tempo * (00:00:47)
13
Variation 8: Tranquillo * (00:01:01)
14
Variation 9: L'istesso tempo * (00:00:55)
15
Variation 10: Veloce leggiero * (00:00:47)
16
Variation 11: L'istesso tempo * (00:01:08)
17
Variation 12: Più mosso * (00:01:15)
18
Variation 13: Moderato * (00:00:55)
19
Variation 14: Moderato * (00:01:42)
20
Variation 15: Allegro molto * (00:00:51)
21
Variation 16: L'istesso tempo * (00:00:58)
22
Variation 17: L'istesso tempo * (00:00:52)
23
Variation 18: Adagio * (00:02:57)
24
Variation 19: Doppio movimento * (00:01:41)
25
Variation 20: Doppio movimento * (00:01:28)
26
Finale: Moderato maestoso * (00:04:00)
 
4 Pieces, Op. 196 (1875) (00:19:06 )
27
No. 1. Im Schilf (00:05:07)
28
No. 2. Berceuse * (00:03:20)
29
No. 3. Novelette * (00:04:51)
30
No. 4. Impromptu * (00:05:45)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:03:07

The Artist(s)

British-Vietnamese Tra Nguyen gave her first concert, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto, K. 488, with the Hanoi Conservatory Orchestra. Since then she has continued to engage audiences in other important venues worldwide. Recent and future performances include Queen Elizabeth Hall, Tokyo Opera City, Hong Kong City Recital Hall, Cadogan Hall and Wigmore Hall amongst others. Her imaginative programming balances core repertoire and lesser-known music, winning critical praise. Her discography introduces many world première recordings of neglected music. Volumes 1–6 of her recordings of Joachim Raff’s piano music have earned wide critical acclaim, including Album of the Week 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(s)

The reputation of Joseph Joachim Raff was once so high that during the 1860s and 1870s he was regarded by many as the foremost symphonist of his day. His breakthrough came in 1863 when both his First Symphony and a cantata won major prizes. From then on his reputation rose inexorably until in 1877 he became the founding director of the prestigious Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. Although primarily known, then as now, as a symphonist, Raff was prolific in most genres; operas, choral works, chamber music and songs abound in his catalogue but by far his largest output was for the piano: there are over 130 works for the instrument, many of them with multiple movements or numbers.

Reviews

“The gold standard by which future performers of Raff will be judged. ” – MusicWeb International

“Tra Nguyen makes the best possible case for all these works” – Gramophone

“She [Tra Nguyen] plays with obvious enjoyment, her right hand unfailingly dancing through pages of note-spinning.” – David Denton