Raff's First Symphony
is located squarely in the German nationalist romantic heartland.
The style straddles the worlds of Mendelssohn and Schumann.
In fact Schumann's Third and Fourth Symphonies are often
recalled in passing reference or the echo of resemblance.
The shivering tail-figure in the decisive gesture first
of the five movements (the Allegro) is straight out of Schumann
4. That Allegro runs to 18:05, the longest movement. German wald romance is also suggested by
the rip and curl of the Scherzo which, far from recalling
Weber, this time links with Schumann's First Symphony. There
is an elegiacally Elgarian Larghetto where the agreeably
unctuous solo cello is played by section principal Matthias
Ranft. While there is a measure of bombast in the allegro
dramatico (IV, 1:50) much can be forgiven when we hear the suave, relaxed and often imaginative
writing of the final Larghetto sostenuto which in its Odysseyan
stride looks to the Tchaikovsky of Winter Daydreams.
While the work has its longueurs in the finale and miscalculated
braggartry in the allegro dramatico, this symphony will
go down well with those who love the Schumann four, Mendelssohn's
3 and 4, Louis Glass's Der Wald symphony, the Ludolf
Nielsen suites and the symphonies by Huber, Wetz and Draeseke.
Not compelling then but pleasing is good too. Raff is not
to be underestimated for his fluency and atmospheric charm.
There are good notes
by Werner M Grimmel.
By the way those lured
into buying this disc by the cover detail from Der Krieg
(1896) by Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901) are in for a disappointment.
There's no apocaylptic conflict in this music.
Low key picturesque
delights from Tudor whose catalogue is the home of Raff.
An alternative to the only other recording of the symphony
on Marco Polo. I would not say it was any better than the
Marco Polo although about ten years more recently recorded.