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La Fée d'amour
The score of Raff's
La Fée d' amour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piano Suite
The score of Raff's Suite
for Piano & Orchestra

Raff's Concertos

Listen to an excerpt Violin Concerto No.1 in B minor op.161 2:23
This, the first of Raff's full concertos was dedicated to the great virtuoso Wilhelmj who premiered it in August 1871. It had been begun a year earlier. Partly though Wilhelmj's championing, the work became popular throughout the last quarter of the 19th. century. Although of only around 30 minutes duration it has the expansive and confident air typical of Raff at the zenith of his career. The opening Allegro patetico is a very substantial movement by the standards of the day and is characterised by a lyrical and defiant spirit. The extended, faintly melancholy Andante non troppo slow movement follows without a break, as does the brief but brilliant concluding Allegro trionfale, whose martial character is probably assocaited with Raff's feeling of national pride after the Franco-Prussian war.

The excerpt is the central section of the slow movement. From Sterling CDS 1075. This CD is reviewed.

This work is discussed in much more detail in the Detailed descriptions section, with audio extracts from all three movements. An extensive essay on this work is available in the Analysis section.

Listen to an excerpt Violin Concerto No.2 in A minor op.206 2:27
The second Violin Concerto was written composed 1877 in Wiesbaden during a difficult time for Raff. He appears to have been in the throws of an artistic crisis caused by the relative failure of some of his works and no doubt intensified by his recent appointment as director of the Hoch Conservatory. Matters were exacerbated when Sarasate, who had pressed Raff to write the concerto for him, wriggled out of premiering it. It was first heard in November 1877, but continued Raff's string of poorly received pieces and remained under the shadow of the first concerto.

Each movement is prefaced by a verse from a poem written by Raff under his pseudonym Arnold Börner. The Allegro first movement ("...the tempest rages...") is again dramatic and highly virtuosic. The violinist having hardly a pause throughout. The long second movement is surely one of Raff's most poetic creations, the Adagio ("...the soft breath of consolation...") conjuring an atmosphere of lyrical melancholy. The concluding Allegro molto ("...joy and pleasure...") opens with a repeat of the opening movement's first motif and is a sprightly, celebratory piece making an effective end to the work.

The excerpt is from towards the close of the Adagio. From Tudor 7086 (review).

This work is discussed in much more detail in the Detailed descriptions section, with audio extracts from all three movements.

Listen to an excerpt Suite for solo violin & orchestra in G minor op.180 1:58
Raff's interest in baroque music found its outlet in the composition of suites in a variety of genres from solo piano to two works for soloist and orchestra, all of which fuse baroque musical forms and romantic harmonies. The first of the concertante pieces is this Suite which he composed in 1873 in Wiesbaden. Dedicated to the virtuoso Hugo Heermann, it is cast in five movements, alternating fast and slow. Throughout the violin writing is brilliantly showy and the orchestra, unusually for Raff, has a more clearly subordinate role. The propulsively fast opening Preludio is followed by a more stately Minuetto and then a lightly dancing Corrente. The work's longest movement and its centre of gravity is the lyrical Aria and it is rounded off by a whirling In moto perpetuo finale.

This excerpt is the start of the Suite's opening Prelude, illustrating the general pace of Raff's music in this work. From Sterling CDS 1075. This CD is reviewed. An extensive essay on this work is available in the Analysis section.

Listen to an excerpt Konzertstück for Violin & Orchestra in A minor La fée d'amour op.67 1:36
As well as his two Violin Concertos, Raff wrote a Suite for violin and orchestra and this concert-piece, which is the earliest of all his concerted works having been written in 1854, whilst working with Liszt in Weimar. It was one of Raff's earliest orchestral works and for a time was quite popular, receiving several performances. The love fairy of the title is depicted by the solo violin in this attractive but perhaps overlong work.

The excerpt is the very opening of the piece.

This work is discussed in much more detail in the Detailed descriptions section, with audio extracts from all three movements.

Listen to an excerpt Ungrischer for Violin & Orchestra in E op.203 1:57
This short eight minute Hungarian genre piece is an arrangement made by Raff in 1878 of the fifth movement of his nine movement Volker op.203 - a "Cyclic Tone Poem" for violin and piano which charts a medieval German legend. He also transcribed the eighth movement for violin, string quintet & two horns. It is in two sections the first of which is a Larghetto with the violinist's arabesques heard against a background of pensive Magyar harmonies. This leads to a vigorous, infectious Allegro which is as Hungarian as anything written by Liszt.

This excerpt is the transition between the two sections of the work. From Tudor 7086 (review).

Listen to an excerpt Cello Concerto No.1 in D minor op.193 1:57
Raff wrote the first of his two Cello Concertos in Wiesbaden in 1874 during one of his most creative periods. With its three movements being played without a break, its structure is similar to the first concerto of Raff's friend Saint-Saëns which was written a couple of year's earlier. The fist movement Allegro leads into a deeply felt Larghetto before the brilliant Finale, vivace brings this concise and satisfying work to a close.

The excerpt is the highly atmospheric opening of the concerto which introduces the theme from which the first movement is constructed.

This work is discussed in much more detail in the Detailed descriptions section, with audio extracts from all three movements. An extensive essay on this work is available in the Analysis section.

Listen to an excerpt Cello Concerto No.2 in G WoO.44 1:57
The second Cello Concerto was written in Autumn 1876 at a time when Raff's administrative workload was curtailing his compositional activities as he prepared to head the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. Consequently, he left this lovely work unpublished and without an opus number at his death. Written on a rather larger scale than its predecessor and in three distinct movements - Allegro, Andante and Allegro vivace - the work is further evidence of Raff's skill in writing for the cello.

The excerpt is from the middle of the passionate Andante second movement.

This work is discussed in much more detail in the Detailed descriptions section, with audio extracts from all three movements.

Listen to an excerpt Piano Concerto in C minor op.185 2:14
It is surprising that Raff wrote only one piano concerto, as so much of his output is for the piano. This piece, which dates from 1873 when the composer was at the height of his fame, is one of his freshest compositions despite his extensive use of counterpoint in each of its movements. Raff's Piano Concerto was hugely popular at the end of the 19th. century and the reasons were summed up by the American pianist William Sherwood: "the joyousness and heroic beauty of expression in the finale, no less than the martial themes and popular catchy rhythms are but a fitting climax to a work which is developed so seriously and grandly in the first movement, and with such delicacy and dreamlike ideality in the second". The second movement, Andante (quasi larghetto), is a tender and intensely lyrical interlude framed by the sweepingly dramatic opening Allegro and the exciting Finale Allegro abounding in march rhythms.

The first extract is the climax of the slow movement. From Tudor 785.

This work is discussed in much more detail in the Detailed descriptions section, with audio extracts from all three movements.

Listen to an excerpt Suite for Piano & Orchestra in E flat major op.200 2:02
For one who wrote almost 150 works for solo piano, it is surprising that Raff wrote only three for piano and orchestra. The last of these is a large scale suite of five movements, written in 1875. The first movement's solemn Introduction leads straight into an extensive Fugue. The second movement is a Minuet - albeit a rather grand one - and this is followed by a Gavotte & Musette movement. The fourth Cavatine is a beautiful piece and the Suite concludes with a suitably boisterous Finale. This delightful work contains some of Raff's most delectable melodies.

This excerpt is from the second movement and features one of Raff's most winning melodic ideas.

This work is discussed in much more detail in the Detailed descriptions section, with audio extracts from all five movements. An extensive essay on this work is available in the Analysis section.

Listen to an excerpt Konzertstück for Piano & Orchestra Ode au Printemps in G op.76 2:23
This, the second of Raff's works for soloist and orchestra, was written in 1857, just after he had made the break with Liszt and had moved from Weimar to Wiesbaden. Perhaps reflecting a happy time in Raff's life, the work is suffused with romantic pleasure at the onset of Spring. Like its predecessor La Fée d'amour, it is cast in one long movement lasting nearly 20 minutes. It was one of the key works in establishing its composer's reputation, as it was taken up enthusiastically by his friend the pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow and performed by him throughout Germany. In this work, the season compelled Raff to write a youthful and joyous work, brimful of delicious melody, romantic orchestral colour and virtuoso writing for the piano - the archetypal romantic piano concerto.

This excerpt is from the middle of the work. From Tudor 7035.

This work is discussed in much more detail in the Detailed descriptions section, with several audio extracts.  

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