This is the second volume in a series from Neeme Järvi and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande dedicated to the orchestral music of the Swiss-born composer Joachim Raff. Although he was a highly popular and prolific composer during his day, his works quickly fell out of the repertoire after his death and are largely forgotten today. The idiomatic performances by Neeme Järvi and his Swiss orchestra in Volume 1, described as ‘peerless’ by BBC Music (*****), suggest that they are the perfect performers to reinvigorate interest in Raff’s music.
This second volume features the rhapsody, Abends, and a number of overtures and preludes alongside Symphony No. 5. Subtitled Lenore, the fifth is one of Raff’s so-called programme symphonies, the only one based on a precise extra-musical source: Gottfried August Bürger’s poetic ballad of the same name. The shorter works show very different sides of Raff’s compositional personality. The grandiose Overture to König Alfred reflects the heroic/romantic nature of the opera’s story while the overtures to the comic operas Dame Kobold and Die Eifersüchtigen are full of humour and high spirits. Dornröschen is an oratorio based on the famous story of Briar Rose, or The Sleeping Beauty, by the brothers Grimm and its prelude has been recorded here.