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Cat. No. CHSA 5117 Price: £11.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5117 - Raff: Symphony No. 2/Four Shakespeare Preludes
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Available From: 01 February 2013

Chandos CHAN 5117

Raff: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Neeme Järvi

This download marks the beginning of a new series, dedicated to the engaging, albeit neglected, orchestral works of the Swiss-German composer Joachim Raff. The survey starts with Symphony No. 2 and the orchestral preludes to four plays by Shakespeare: The Tempest, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Othello, all idiomatically performed by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, conducted by its new Artistic and Music Director, Neeme Järvi.

Well crafted, with brilliant orchestration and strong melodies, the works of Raff were very highly regarded during his lifetime. In fact, he was one of the most widely performed and influential musicians of his day – some even ranked him with Wagner and Brahms. A highly prolific composer of close to 300 works, he wrote extensively in virtually all forms. Soon after his death, however, his reputation began its descent and his music came to languish in relative obscurity; today his works are largely forgotten.

Reviews

“Raff’s post-Mendelssohnian lyric charm is offset by individuality in delicate orchestration and unexpected harmonies. Peerless performances from Järvi and his Swiss orchestra.” *****

David Nice – BBC Music magazine (Brief Notes Section) – September 2013

"... Chandos’s SACD sound serves the music well with sweet instrumental texture, good orchestral balance, and no trace of digital harshness or objectionable spotlighting of individual instruments. If you would enjoy a collection of pleasant but minor romantic music, don’t hesitate to acquire this well-executed recording.”
 
Arthur Lintgen – Fanfare – July/August 2013

“... Once again Neeme Jarvi shows he knows just what this music is about , and he gets excellent playing from his men... This well-filled and sonorously recorded repast makes an excellent first instalment in Jarvi’s Raff cycle.”

Steven J Haller – American Record Guide – May/June 2013 

 "This is a simply terrific in every respect... I was staggered by the excellence of the sound quality on this SACD. The orchestral image is both wide and deep – enhanced by the fine acoustic of the Victoria Hall, Geneva -  and one is immediately aware of the pin-point accuracy with regard to the positions of individual instruments. Authoritative notes by Dr. Avrohom Leichtling complete this most recommendable issue."

Graham Williams - CD Choice.co.uk - 22 March 2013

“...Neeme Järvi and his Suisse Romande players seem to be hving a whale of a time, or at least that’s the impression that these extremely vital performances suggest... a perfect place to dip a toe into Raffian waters.”

Rob Cowan – Gramophone magazine – April 2013

"...Raff’s music virtually disappeared after his death – saving his little Cavatina lollipop – and has only recently been rediscovered. This account of his Second Symphony, reckoned by many to be his finest can only help that process. Jarvi’s approach is pacey, the playing of the orchestra top drawer and the Chandos recording pin sharp. Filling the disc are Raff’s four Shakespeare Preludes from towards the end of his life and the colourful Macbeth that should surely find a home in Scottish concert halls..."
 
Keith Bruce - Herald Scotland - 20 March 2013

“...Raff’s Second [Symphony] expertly scored and effortlessly fluent ... Järvi’s fleet performance avoids portentousness ... The Four Shakespeare Preludes ... were composed in 1879, when Raff’s style had become more concise and his orchestration even more imaginative; these pieces are based upon The Tempest, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Othello respectively are brilliant showpieces...” ***

Andrew Clements – The Guardian – 22 February 2013

 


                        Performance  *****             Sonics *****
“This is a simply terrific release in every respect... This is the sort of neglected repertoire on which the ever-questing Neeme Järvi thrives, and his performance of the symphony is both lively and affectionate. The Orchestra de la Suisse Romande play with great style and freshness for their new Artistic Director, and communicate a real sense of enjoyment to the listener... Used as one is to the very fine sound quality from Chandos, I was staggered by the excellence of the sound quality on this SACD. The orchestral image is both wide and deep ... one is immediately aware of the pin-point accuracy with regard to the position of individual instruments...”
 
Graham Williams – SA-CD.net – 8 February 2013

 

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