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RAFF, JOACHIM (1822–1882)

Piano Works • 1

Ballade • Scherzo • Metamorphosen • Frühlingsboten • Fantaisie

  • Tra Nguyen, piano

Although Raff is remembered primarily as one of the foremost symphonists of his day, by far his largest output was for the piano. The three works recorded here date from his early years in Weimar, and include the newly-discovered Fantaisie. One of Raff’s first successes, Frühlingsboten portrays nature in many-layered miniature scenes. The Drei Klavier-Soli concludes with one of Raff’s greatest piano pieces, Metamorphosen.


Frühlingsboten, Op. 55 (1852) (01:16:00 )
I. Winterruhe: Andantino * (00:01:54)
II. Frühlingsnahen: Allegro non troppo, deciso * (00:04:35)
III. Gelübde: Grave * (00:03:51)
IV. Unruhe: Allegro * (00:01:52)
V. Annäherung: Andantino * (00:02:45)
VI. Wirrniss: Vivace * (00:02:23)
VII. Vorwurf: Andante non troppo * (00:04:07)
VIII. Fern: Andantino * (00:01:56)
IX. Frohe Kunde: Presto * (00:02:27)
X. Zu zwei: Andante * (00:02:34)
XI. Ohne Ruh': Allegro * (00:02:57)
XII. Abends: Larghetto * (00:04:09)
3 Klavier-Soli, Op. 74 (1852) (00:41:00 )
No. 1. Ballade: Andantino, quasi larghetto * (00:10:33)
No. 2. Scherzo: Presto * (00:06:11)
No. 3. Metamophosen: Andante * (00:12:24)
Fantasie in B Major, WoO 15A (1852) * (00:12:09)
World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:16:47

The Artist(s)

Tra Nguyen 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.


“Nguyen is clearly aware of Raff’s historical lineage and imbues his music with what seems like the perfect dynamic of energy, drama, light and pathos. Her excellent technique and expressive flexibility—for example, demonstrating restraint where another might turn to melodrama—combine to produce interpretations that will long serve as a yardstick against which future performers must measure themselves. ” – MusicWeb International

“Tra Nguyen makes the best possible case for all these works and has been well recorded on a splendidly voiced Steinway at Wyastone.” – Gramophone

The Independent

“This new label is starting with an interesting “new” composer, since Joachim Raff (1822–1882) has been totally overshadowed by his contemporary Liszt. Tra Nguyen shows what an original and brilliant voice Raff’s is: the colour and inventiveness of his Metamorphosen is entirely his own.” – The Independent

“The playing is of a beguiling loveliness, the recording has richness and depth, and the music, a revelation, makes one eager for the next volume.” – American Record Guide

“Hats off! Anyone who is seriously interested in piano music should check out Grand Piano for an extended test drive in their home CD player.” – The Listener