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RAFF, JOACHIM (1822–1882)

Piano Works • 5

Grande Sonate, Op. 14 • Blätter und Blüten, Op. 135a

  • Tra Nguyen, piano

Raff’s piano compositions earned him considerable acclaim in his lifetime. The four volumes of Blätter und Blüten (Leaves and Blossoms) consist of twelve deliciously melodic and colourful depictions of the then popular vogue for ‘The Language of Flowers’. By contrast, the Grande Sonate, is a late work and one of his major statements. Conceived on a quasi-symphonic scale, its sonorous gravity and breadth encompass a bleak nobility that represents the culmination of his writing for the piano.


Grande Sonate, Op. 14 (1881) (00:34:50 )
I. Allegro (00:11:32)
II. Allegro molto (00:04:11)
III. Larghetto (00:10:22)
IV. Allegro - Animato - Più mosso (00:08:47)
Blätter und Blüten, Op. 135a (1866) (00:38:08 )
No. 1. Epheu: Andantino * (00:03:14)
No. 2. Cypresse: Larghetto * (00:04:32)
No. 3. Nelke: Presto - Molto meno mosso, quasi andantino - Tempo I * (00:03:01)
No. 4. Lorbeer: Allegro vivace * (00:03:16)
No. 5. Rose: Andantino, non troppo lento * (00:01:58)
No. 6. Vergissmeinnicht: Allegro grazioso * (00:04:14)
No. 7. Reseda: Allegretto * (00:02:23)
No. 8. Lubine: Andante * (00:03:33)
No. 9. Animone: Allegro * (00:02:53)
No. 10. Immergrün: Allegretto - Un poco meno mosso - Tempo I * (00:03:21)
No. 11. Maiglöckchen: Allegretto pastorale (quasi andantino) * (00:02:25)
No. 12. Kornblume: Presto - Un pochettino meno mosso - Come prima * (00:03:35)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:13:17

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.


BBC Music Magazine

“This fifth volume of piano works by Brahms’s older contemporary Raff finds the excellent Nguyen playing with intelligence and devotion” – BBC Music Magazine

Raff.org – The essential Raff reference

“Nguyen’s interpretations of Raff are peerless. She inhabits the music. As this series has progressed, so has our indebtedness to her for shining a light on such an important part of Raff’s oeuvre.” – Raff.org – The essential Raff reference