One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus



CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Robin de RAAFF (b. 1968)
Raaff (2004) [74.05]
Raaff – Marcel Rejians (tenor)
Dorothea – Danielle de Niese (soprano)
M. - Mark Tevis (tenor)
Victoria - Annett Andriesen (alto)
Frida – Monique Scholte (mezzo)
Marcello – David Wilson-Johnson (bass)
Kendo – Paul Rigter (actor)
Vocaal Ensemble; Nieuw Ensemble/Lawrence Rees
rec. 24, 26 November 2004, Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam (Holland Festival)
ETCETERA KTC1370 [74.05]

Experience Classicsonline

Robin de Raaff is a young Dutch composer whose background mixes training at the Amsterdam Conservatoire, masterclasses with Pierre Boulez and a period as a rock musician. His first opera, Raaff, mixes these influences to create a creditable and credible new opera.

The work was premièred in 2004 by Netherlands Opera, but the composer had in fact been working on it since the 1990s. The libretto is by Janine Brogt, and for once when reviewing a new opera I felt that De Raaff and Brogt had had a clear idea about how to construct it, one based firmly in the conventions of the past, but which evokes new ideas.

The story and title come from the confrontation between Mozart and the tenor Anton Raaff who sang the title role in Mozart's opera Idomeneo at the premiere in Munich. De Raaff and Brogt have moved the plot to the present, set in and around the fictional Victoria's Festival Theatre. There is a confrontation between the composer, M. (Mark Tevis) and the singer Raaff (Marcel Reijans), but M. decides to do away with conventions and produce something new rather than tailoring things to Raaff's old-fashioned prejudices. Torn between them is Dorothea Wendling (Danielle de Niese), a young singer who is Raaff's lover.

The first act, set in the day-time, enacts the struggle between M and Raaff during rehearsals. The shorter second act, which takes place during the evening, is more fragmentary and phantasmagorical as the characters struggle with ideas and themselves, raising questions about what an opera is.

The cast is of mixed nationality and the libretto uses this, being written in three languages. The Dutch characters speak Dutch to themselves, but use English to the foreigners like Dorothea. Then there is the Italian of Mozart's opera which is threaded through the piece as well. This means that the ordinary listener does rather need to follow the libretto, especially as the English diction is sometimes rather occluded.

In addition, De Raaff characterises M. as a modernist, go-ahead person by shadowing his figure with a Fender Rhodes piano and fretless bass guitar.

De Raaff's musical style is not minimal. He mixes a great deal in and much of the opera is conducted at high energy. There are quiet moments, but De Raaff rarely lets his singers rest for long. The combination of the orchestra with the electric instruments and quite a lot of percussion makes for a rich and noisy sound. But De Raaff doesn't overwhelm his singers.

His vocal lines are lyric and singer-friendly, but he does not write tunes as such. The opera is conducted more in continuous arioso rather than recitative and aria, but the orchestra’s comments on the action are almost as important. The whole texture of the piece is quite distinctive and I think I would recognise one of De Raaff's pieces again. The Mozart quotations are neatly woven into the texture, often just fragments, and contribute to the overall feel rather than standing out as awkward quotations.

The opera is admirably compact, lasting around an hour and a quarter, and Brogt's libretto is concise, leaving plenty of space for the music. It reads like a libretto and certainly not like a naturalistic play, which is a big plus point.

The recording was made live, under the musical direction of Lawrence Rees, in a production by Pierre Audi, and the singers certainly give a strong dramatic performance. They really make you feel that drama is happening in the music. Marcel Reijans is a little taxed by the high tenor of the title role, but acquits himself admirably. His lover is played by Danielle de Niese whose role is modelled by the composer on Bess (from Porgy and Bess), though I did not really pick up these influences. De Niese is not a singer I associate with contemporary opera, but here she is entirely at home. The third major role is that of the composer, M., admirably played by Mark Tevis.

These are admirably supported by the smaller roles, Annett Andriesen as Victoria the main sponsor of the Festival, Monique Scholte as Frida an Italian singer and David Wilson-Johnson as Marcello a German singer. The opera also has a role for a castrato, but he is played by an actor, because Brogt comes up with the neat idea that the castrato has a cold so cannot sing!

There is something a little too hip about the concept and the execution of this piece, with its rewriting of history and the slick interjections from rock idioms. But Brogt and De Raaff still bring the piece off well and whatever my objections, they have completed a well constructed and thoroughly thought out opera. They obviously understand what contemporary opera means to them and work through their knowledge of past operas rather than trying to create something which breaks all moulds. The good news is that they are working on a new opera.

The CD booklet contains the libretto in English only, but it indicates which passages are sung in Dutch and English. There are an admirable number of colour pictures from Pierre Audi's stylish production of the opera.

This CD should be of interest to anyone who loves opera and wants to know where it might be going in the 21st century.

Robert Hugill


Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.