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Friday, September 8, 2017

Joachim Raff - Works for Violin & Piano Vol. 4 (Ingolf Turban; Jascha Nemtsov)


Composer: Joachim Raff
  1. Fourth Grand Sonata in G minor, Op. 129: Chromatische Sonate in einem Satze
  2. Sonatillen, Op. 99: No. 1 Allegro Agitato
  3. Sonatillen, Op. 99: No. 2 Largetto
  4. Sonatillen, Op. 99: No. 3 Tarantella
  5. Sonatillen, Op. 99: No. 9 Scherzo
  6. Sonatillen, Op. 99: No. 10 Adagio
  7. Fifth Grand Sonata in C minor, Op. 145: I. Allegro patetico
  8. Fifth Grand Sonata in C minor, Op. 145: II. Andante
  9. Fifth Grand Sonata in C minor, Op. 145: III. Presto
  10. Fifth Grand Sonata in C minor, Op. 145: IV. Allegro agitato

Ingolf Turban, violin
Jascha Nemtsov, piano

Date: 2007
Label: CPO



We’ve arrived at volume four in the survey of Raff’s complete music for violin and piano (see below for links to previous volumes). This gives us the Fourth and Fifth of the Grand Sonatas and some of the Sonatillen in performances of commitment and assurance by Turban and Nemtsov, recorded in June 2006 in Stuttgart.

The most imposing and impressive of the works is programmed first, the sixteen minute, one-movement Grand Sonata written in 1866. Its formidable recitative-like opening foretells great things and whilst they’re not entirely met one does admire Raff for his blending of quasi-dramatic and romantic leanings in the work. This convulsively, often irresistibly lyrical style can, as we know, sometimes leech into salon sentiment but not here; or at least not too often. Written in strict sonata form it was dedicated to Vieuxtemps and there is much in it to interest a virtuoso who can marry dynamism with pathos. There are hints of Tannhäuser here, cryptic little semi-quotations, and a piano part full of ardour and spirit and the lure of mid century expression. It’s a powerful, exciting work, and played with just the right spirit by this experienced duo.

The Fifth Sonata followed two years later. It’s nearly twice as big as the earlier work but it’s not twice as good. A certain amount of conventionality seems to have descended on the hard working Raff in 1868. So whilst the main theme of the first movement is auspiciously noble and commanding and whilst there’s sturm und drang in the slow movement the sonata as a whole never quite measures up to the sum of its parts. The urgency of that Andante – full of tremolandi and perturbed spirit – sees the last high vantage point; from then on the sonata falls away progressively into note spinning. A pity as the first two movements have their moments; the last two are merely workmanlike.

Programmed in between the sonatas are the Op.99 Sonatillen. These gentle, classical pieces were originally written for the piano and then arranged by Raff for violin and piano. The odd title means that each piece stands alone but as the first three show they can form a unified sonata without too much embarrassment. The Larghetto is a rather lovely lied, warm and generous, and something at which Raff was a master. The “finale” to this de facto sonata is a tarantella and it’s full of vivacity. No.9 is a scherzo that has bathed in Schubertian waters and has perhaps also taken heed of the scherzo of Beethoven’s Op.24 violin sonata.

Once again the Turban-Nemtsov duo proves admirably accomplished in these miniatures. The recording is warm, sympathetic and attractive, the works themselves inconsistent. At their best though, in the shape of the Fourth Sonata, they show Raff in the best light possible.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International

More reviews:


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.


Ingolf Turban (born 17th March 1964 in Munich) is a German violinist. He studied with Gerhard Hetzel, Jens Ellermann and Dorothy DeLay, among others. Turban was appointed concertmaster with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra under Celibidache in 1985, but departed to launch a solo career in 1988. Turban is best known for his spirited interpretations of the works of Paganini, and also commands a huge repertory of works by Mozart, Schumann, Joachim Raff, Ysaÿe, Wieniawski, Bruch, Reinecke, Respighi, Kreisler, etc. He has concertized throughout Europe and the U.S., and has made over 30 recordings.


Jascha Nemtsov (born 7th October 1963 in Magadan, Siberia, USSR) is a Russian pianist and musicologist. As a pianist he has recorded more than 30 CDs, featuring numerous world premiere recordings and a vast spectrum of repertoire from Romantic compositions such as Liszt and Raff to music of the New Jewish School, Turkish music (Saygun), Bartok, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and other modern Russian composers. In his scientific works he focuses on Jewish music and Jewish composers of the 20th century, and gives guest lectures and master classes in Europe and North America.


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  2. Hi,
    The links for Raff -Violin and Piano Works Vols. 1-4 do not work.
    Kindly provide new links.

    1. The links are good.
      You should register an account on MEGA (mega.nz). Then you will have more bandwidth to download.

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