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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Joachim Raff - Piano Works Vol. 6 (Tra Nguyen)


Composer: Joachim Raff
  • (01-06) Erinnerung an Venedig, Op. 187
  • (07) Barcarolle, Op. 143
  • (08-13) 6 Poemes, Op. 15
  • (14) Fantaisie, Op. 142
  • (15) 2 Pieces, Op. 169: No. 1. Romance: Quasi adagio
  • (16) 2 Pieces, Op. 169: No. 2. Valse brillante: Allegro

Tra Nguyen, piano
Date: 2015
Label: Grand Piano



The sixth and final volume in this survey of the music by the Swiss-born composer, Joachim Raff, most of the contents receiving their world premiere recordings. Having lived his early life in poverty, much of that period being spent in the Liszt household acting as the distinguished composer’s amanuensis. Then came a remarkable change in fortune, his symphonic output by the time of his death being in many quarters enjoyed in preference to Beethoven. In his considerable output for the keyboard, the obvious influence of Chopin and Mendelssohn at times resulted in works that are readily likeable. As this disc shows, he was happiest in a quiet and uneventful world, his few moments of drama seemingly superimposed. We gently flow along the waterways of Venice in the six sections of Erinnerung an Venedig, a series of holiday snapshots ending in a jovial dance. Barcarolle is in a similar mode, its seven minutes of amiable note-spinning spent in search of a memorable melody. Fantaisie, also from the same period, has more substance, and there is a likeable melody buried under a profusion of notes that require much dexterity in the fingers of the performer. Turning to the Six Poemes, written while still young—and scrutinised by Liszt—and we have works very worthy of preserving. There are many differing moods, the passion of the opening poem driving the work forward as we pass through a vivacious scherzo, a Swiss song, and arriving finally at a dazzlingly fast Presto. Throughout the series the British-Vietnamese pianist, Tra Nguyen, has shown her obvious enjoyment and affection for the composer, and we thank her for her many enjoyable discoveries.

-- David Denton © 2015, David’s Review Corner


Joachim Raff (May 27, 1822 – June 24 or June 25, 1882) was a German-Swiss composer, teacher and pianist. He worked as Liszt's assistant at Weimar from 1850 to 1853, helping in the orchestration of several of Liszt's works. From 1878 he was the first Director of, and a teacher at, the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, where he employed Clara Schumann and a number of other eminent musicians as teachers. His pupils there included Edward MacDowell and Alexander Ritter. Raff was very prolific, and by the end of his life was one of the best known German composers, though his work is largely forgotten today.


Tra Nguyen is a British-Vietnamese pianist. Tra made her first solo performance at the Hanoi Grand Opera House when she was ten and has continued to engage audiences in other prestigious venues worldwide. Tra Nguyen studied with Lev Naumov in Moscow Conservatory and with Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music, London, where she received the academy’s highest award for her final recital. Her imaginative programming balances core repertoire and lesser-known music, winning critical praise. Her discography introduces many world première recordings of neglected music.


FLAC, tracks
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  2. I have really been enjoying the Raff Festival you have shared with us and congratulate you on a nicely laid out and informative blog. I hope you enjoy maintaining it as much as I enjoy reading through it.

    Here's to a terrific 2016, filled with good health, happiness and much great music. -- Progress

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I love classical music so much that I can't stand not sharing them.

  3. Raff is really wonderful, a new discovery for me, thank you!

  4. Thanks for volumes 4-6. Some good music in there.

  5. Is there any reason why these Raff Piano music posts are in mp3 format rather than the more usual flac?

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