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HERE LIES THE ESSENCE OF REDISCOVERY

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'... fresh and stimulating ... musical pointers come alive as they occur ...'

Symphonies Nos 3 and 4 by Joachim Raff -
with BILL NEWMAN

 

CD INFORMATION - HYPERION  CDH55017

Zürich-born Joseph Joachim Raff, faced with family difficulties walked 50 miles to Basle to hear and visit Liszt who had been influential in getting some of the young composer's manuscripts published by Breitkopf and Härtel. Raff became Liszt's musical assistant for six years, profiting greatly. He began to compose at a steady pace - opera (King Alfred), numerous piano pieces and songs, chamber pieces and vocal music. Eleven symphonies came from his pen before he collapsed from overwork while director of Frankfurt University at the age of 60. Inevitably with such a prolific output, his music bears similarities to Liszt's tone poems in its proud declamations and scenic content, and Wagner in prouder, bolder moments, while delving back to Beethoven for counterpoint ideas, and Mendelssohn and Schumann in their lyrical abstractions.

Symphony 3 In the Forest, with its movement subtitles 'Daytime', 'In the Twilight', 'Dance of the Dryads' and 'At Night' explores a wide range of pictorial visions and colours involving an astonishing mastery of orchestration [listen - track 7, 0:00 - 1:00] over a time span of 45 minutes. In Symphony 4 (nearly 36 minutes), the development of themes and subject matter is more conventional, but there is a constant shift of emphasis from mid-19th century lyricism through the bolder Brahmsian structures surrounding the legato melodies, that looks forward to the beginnings of a new century with its aura of light comedy successes by Sullivan, Monckton and others. The conductor and orchestra's whole approach is fresh and stimulating, making musical pointers come alive as they occur without lingering over phrases and contrasting material.

Copyright © 13 August 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - HYPERION CDH55017

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