Monday, May 8, 2017

Raff, Joachim. (1822-1882) String Quartets No. 2-4 & No. 8.

New acquisition.
Bough in 2017.
First listen: 8-5-2017.
Second listen: 18-5 & 20-5-2017.
Third listen: 13-6-2017.
Label: CPO. (2 cd's)
Recording dates:  November 2006 & June 2007.
Recording venue: Hans-Rosbaud Studio, Baden-Baden, SWR. Germany.
Recording engineer: Wolfgang Rein.
Running time: 74:41 & 53:24.
Relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
SQ No. 2 opus 90 in A major.
SQ No. 3 opus 136 in E minor.
SQ No. 4 opus 137 in A minor.
SQ No. 8 opus 192,3 in C major. (Suite in Canonform)

Works performed by:
Mannheimer Streichquartett.

It is a pity that Raff is not valued that highly these days, for he is a true master in all forms that he worked in. These string quartets are unbelievably beautiful with a melodic richness that places them right into the same level as many of his fellow composers. He was very much a composer who believed in the adagium that new sparks can be struck from old ideas. He worked with music forms of old and refurbished them into thoroughly modern works of his time. They are original and highly accomplished works. Freshness and vitality are trademarks. Cultivated well structured 
works. Sophisticated craftsmanship. And so on and on.
It has finely sustained slow movements, lively contrasts in the faster parts, tenderly expressive, with sometimes a daring harmonic scope. Everything in his music unfolds seamlessly and has great breadth of expression. There are moments of magic with such fragility, that merely to move an inch while listening almost breaks the mood. And always carefully structured, such was his genius as a composer. Striking a fine balance between energy and poise. All in all this is a notable addition to the Raff discography, and all admirers should not shy away from the SQ, they are probably his greatest chamber music he ever wrote. Deep into the Romantic tradition.
The recordings and performances are top notch.




Baroque Bass Cantatas from the Mügeln Archive.

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