A treasure island of piano music — Spiegel Online
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RAFF, Joachim (1822-1882)

PIANO WORKS • 3

ALBUM LYRIQUE, OP. 17 • CINQ EGLOGUES, OP. 105 • IMPROMPTU-VALSE, OP. 94 • FANTAISIE-POLONAISE, OP. 106


  • 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 Album Lyrique, Op.17 contains a distillation of Raff’s gifts for writing richly varied character pieces for the piano. They are often slow and meditative, but become increasingly dramatic and sonorous as the music progresses. The Cinq Eglogues, Op.105 are poetic gems, the Impromptu-Valse, Op. 94 attained huge popularity, whilst the Fantaisie-Polonaise, Op.106 reveals Raff’s bravura side.

Tracklist

 
Album lyrique, Op. 17 (1849 version) (1845) (00:46:54 )
1
Volume 1: No. 1. Reverie: Larghetto rubato * (00:04:08)
2
Volume 1: No. 2. Reverie: Lento * (00:04:11)
3
Volume 1: No. 3. Reverie: Andante con moto, quasi allegretto * (00:04:09)
4
Volume 2: No. 4. Romance: Moderato * (00:04:33)
5
Volume 2: No. 5. Ballade: Allegro * (00:04:37)
6
Volume 3: No. 6. Nocturne: Lento * (00:05:59)
7
Volume 3: No. 7. Nocturne: Larghetto * (00:04:49)
8
Volume 4: No. 8. Scherzo: Allegro * (00:05:22)
9
Volume 5: No. 9. Introduction and Fugue: Allegro * (00:09:04)
 
5 Eglogues, Op. 105 (1861) (00:18:26 )
10
No. 1. Allegro molto * (00:04:20)
11
No. 2. Andante con moto * (00:04:22)
12
No. 3. Andante quasi larghetto * (00:03:57)
13
No. 4. Andante mosso * (00:02:39)
14
No. 5. Presto giojoso * (00:03:06)
15
Impromptu-valse, Op. 94 (1860) * (00:04:15)
16
Fantaisie-polonaise, Op. 106 (1861) * (00:07:02)
World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:16:33

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

Diapason

“Tra Nguyen brings a beautiful sonority and a firm technicity” – Diapason

“[Nguyen’s] playing throughout, admirably recorded, is as warm, fluent and sympathetic as you could wish.” – Gramophone

“The Impromptu-Valse absolutely sparkles under Nguyen’s fingers, while the Fantaisie-Polonaise is an effective marriage of Liszt and Raff.” – International Piano

“Another top-class performance by Nguyen, her technical prowess augmented once again by an intuitive sense of expression and phrasing that brings this magical music to life.” – MusicWeb International