£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again


 
REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

alternatively
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
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

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

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      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

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

Nostalgia

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

Comment
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

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
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
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
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
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
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.