Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Joachim RAFF (1822-1882)
Fantasie-Sonata in D minor Op. 168 (1872) [17.07]
Trois morceaux Op. 2 (1877) [12.42]
Grand Sonata in E flat minor Op. 14 2nd version (1880) [31.39]
Valentina Seferinova (piano
rec July 2002, Winterbrook Studios, London
CAHOOTS CAH 001 [61.50]
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Joachim Raff Society

Raff probably benefited from his own innate sense of single-mindedness as a composer and as a result managed during his life to steer a middle path through the Brahms or Wagner camps. More than half his 216 published works were written for piano, while some of the symphonies (Im Walde and Lenore in particular) are well worth an airing and appear on more adventurous CD labels if not yet in concert programmes. This enterprising CD by the Bulgarian pianist Valentina Seferinova, now UK based, provides an interesting insight into some of the piano pieces. Because Raffís career dipped somewhat in the middle of his life in terms of his relationship with his publisher Breitkopf und Härtel, he revisited some of his early works towards the end of his life and reworked them; hence the date of 1877 against his Op.2 which actually appeared first in 1842. His first 46 works were piano pieces written between 1842 and 1849. During this time he received Mendelssohnís invaluable endorsement to give him an entrée to the publishers. The three pieces Op.2 consist of a charming Romance framed by a ruminative Elégie and a Chopin-like Waltz. Likewise the Grand Sonata in E flat minor is the second version of a far earlier work belying the fact that it was his last piece for the piano, written when he was Director of the Frankfurt Music Conservatoire. Both works are recorded here for the first time. The Fantasie-Sonata in D minor was dedicated to Saint-Saëns in 1872 (perhaps a peace offering after the recently concluded Franco-Prussian war) and is a through-composed work despite its division into movements. Despite some unhelpful dryness in the recording studio, Valentina Seferinova makes a strong case for this largely forgotten repertoire, plays it with stylish finesse and clearly enjoys the music. The Larghetto of the Grand Sonata made a strong impression, beautifully paced and sensitively breathed in its subtle shapes, while the fugal Finale has impeccable clarity. Never a dull moment, one hopes that she and other pianists will delve further into this composerís music if this sample is anything to go by.

Christopher Fifield

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