One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Joachim RAFF (1822-1882)
String Quartet No.2 in A major, Op.90 (1857) [40:44]
String Quartet No.3 in E minor, Op.136 (1867) [33:37]
String Quartet No.4 in A minor, Op.137 (1867) [30:30]
String Quartet No.8 in C major, Op.192 (1876) [22:40]
Mannheim String Quartet
rec. November 2006 (Quartets 4 and 8) and June 2007 (Quartets 2 and 3), Hans-Rosbaud Studio, Baden-Baden
CPO 777004-2 [74:41 + 53:24]

The Raff renaissance on disc continues. This time it's the string quartets that are explored by the Mannheim Quartet. In passing one should note CPO's steadfast commitment to the composer's music with discs of the piano trios, violin sonatas and some of the symphonies (7 and 8-11) in their catalogue.

This twofer presents half Raff's published eight quartets, and we must hope that the remainder will be forthcoming to add to numbers 6 and 7 recorded by the Mannheimers in 2003 (review). If the trios can be taken as a precedent, then it looks likely even though the recordings were made as long ago as 2006-07. The quartets are suffused with Raff's lyrical grace but, more than that, they have a sense of personable individuality that makes them more than merely attractive examples of the genre.

The Second Quartet in A major was written in 1857 and the warmly balanced playing of the Mannheimers pays dividends in exploring its sonata-form felicities. The opening has a wealth of delicious melodic writing, a songful iridescence that is well contrasted with the Allegretto where the play of rustic and elfin is especially delightful. The finale is strongly chromatic, its March theme adding style to this 40-minute quartet. There was a gap of a decade between this work and the succeeding Quartet in E minor. Here Raff makes much play of independent lines, somewhat Mendelssohnian, that sound halting and almost contingent but which fuse together adeptly and wittily. The scherzo mines those rustic drone motifs before ushering in the graceful and quietly complex slow movement, its diverse moods encapsulating a sweetly melancholic section, a reverie conveyed with rapt beauty in this performance - the music barely breathes at one point before its hymnal close.

The Fourth Quartet, written close on the heels of the E minor, witnesses a degree of urgency rare until now in his quartets. It's a case of four independent voices trying to find a compromise with the first violin leading the lyricism with great sweep. Raff was an inveterate writer of jovial scherzos for chamber forces and this is one such, whilst his slow movement conforms to another quality, which is his ability to be melancholic yet move onwards with fluidity. With a great sense of theatrical panache, the instruments revert to ruminative soliloquies, as if unable to synthesise the emotive direction of the quartet, until Raff relinquishes them from their dilemma via a brief but concluding presto section.

Raff's last quartet differs from the preceding ones in this disc. Firstly it's quite obviously based on the ground-plan of Beethoven's last quartets in its use of numerous movements but also it conforms rather more to the condition of a suite than a quartet. Raff utilises old dance forms but with craft and wit and quite without a sense of pastiche. He crafts a delightful Aria and vests the Gavotte and Musette with a trademark drone effect. This shows Raff moving in rather different directions, though I wouldn't say that it eclipses the earlier works.

The recording perspective puts the quartet at just a slight distance, though not too far to blunt the sweetness and lyricism the group locates in the music. They play with charm and elegance throughout this delightful release.

Jonathan Woolf




 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger