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Joachim Raff: Symphony No. 7; Jubel-Overture [CD]

Joachim Raff , Philharmonia Hungarica Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Philharmonia Hungarica
  • Composer: Joachim Raff
  • Audio CD (30 Aug 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Cpo
  • ASIN: B00029CXBI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,583 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

CPO 999289; CPO - CLASSIC PROD.OSNABRUCK - Germania; Classica Orchestrale

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Raff's Swiss 'Pastorale' Symphony 4 Nov 2004
By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
This is part of what appears to be an ongoing series of releases of Raff's symphonies by the Philharmonic Hungarica, a Hungarian émigré group that ceased to exist in 2001. This recording was made in 1991. The sound is quite acceptable nonetheless.
Raff's Seventh Symphony is subtitled 'In den Alpen' ('In the Alps') and it paints pictures of both the landscape (in I & III) and the culture (II & IV). I, at 18 minutes is by far the longest. Subtitled 'Wanderung im Hochgebirge' ('Hike in the High Mountains') it begins with a maestoso unison four-note theme (c G d c) that conjures up the majesty of the Alpine peaks. It is cast as a fairly standard sonata-allegro and, aside from a jaunty second theme introduced by the bassoons, the thematic materials are rather mundane. This is the least successful movement of the four. It doesn't help that the bassoons don't accent the second theme vigorously enough to give it the profile it acquires when taken up later by other instruments (and, indeed, when the theme reappears in the coda of the Finale). II, subtitled 'In der Herberge' ('In the Inn'), is a rustic 3/4 dance, a sort of scherzo. One very nice bit of color in the Trio is the set of allegro countermelodies by clarinets and then flutes in thirds chasing each other all around the main theme. Both this and the fourth movement remind me in tone of Karl Goldmark's 'Rustic Wedding' Symphony. III, 'Am See' ('By the lake'), is a serenely beautiful larghetto. (Quite by chance, one time when I was taking a walk [not in the Alps, but in the flat landscape of Kansas!] and listening to the symphony on my Discman, I came to a small lake just as this movement began. I had to chuckle.) IV, 'Beim Schwingfest,' ('At the swingfest,' a Swiss shepherds' celebration) depicts peasant revelry.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raff's Swiss 'Pastorale' Symphony, 23 Nov 2004
There is much to be commended with this recording. The quality of the playing is top rank and the recording quality is much on the same par.
Many find the composer as second rate. This is not my view. At one time this composer was one of the most popular around europe and only critics and changes in fashion altered this.
I would say to anyone, ignore critics and buy this recording, you will not be disapointed.
Open your mind and ears. Judge for yourselves!
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raff and the Alps at their peak! 31 May 2006
By Robert Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
After a successful 6th, this symphony was not well received by the public.

Not sure why, because against the rest of Raff's stunning symphonic output, it holds up quite well.

One reason could be the unusual first movement, which deviates from the normal sonata allegro form used by Raff in previous symphonies. His use of an extended introduction, as well as a second development section which employs the main theme in a brilliant contrapuntal passage make this movement hard to grasp on a first hearing.

One reviewer claims that this is the least successful movement of the symphony.

I disagree. After several hearings, this 1st movement reveals itself as a masterpiece unto itself, and makes for very enjoyable listening.

As for the rest of the symphony, it seems Raff can do no wrong.

A lively 2nd movement gives way to a deeply heartfelt Larghetto 3rd followed by a catchy 4th which brings back elements of the 1st movement.

What a world unto itself this symphony is!

Buy it. Enjoy it. Get lost in it!

Oh, and as for the Jubel Overture, it's ok, but after the main course, who really cares?

Highest Recommendation.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crown Jewel of Raff's Symphonic Series 28 Nov 2007
By Joseph Barbarie - Published on Amazon.com
Ignore the disparaging treatment of this disc by one of the other reviewers here, who seems to have gone deaf with age (to judge from his reference to Charles Ives by the familiar "Charlie"). This is the chef d'ouevre of Raff's symphonic efforts.

The playing (and sound engineering) on this disc is also far superior to the other release of Raff symphonies by this ensemble, a double album containing symphonies 8 - 11. I am a loss to explain such a disparity in playing, other than perhaps to suggest that the material here is so much more inspired that the performers were commensurately moved by it. In all four movements, you have thematic material and orchestration of an originality and power which at times approaches that of Tchaikovsky.

Raff's little formal deviations and idiosyncracies do not appear at the surface level -- they are subtle enough to go unnoticed. This is one of the chief difficulties of Raff's art; it is not a hand-waving, self-promoting sort of animal. Rather, it goes its steady way, ignoring passing crazes of expression and form. For instance, Raff, although a master of orchestral color (he helped Liszt in this regard) typically made do with rather conservative forces in his symphonies.

In this work, Raff's originality is most evident in the strange "walking" scherzo (which apparently confused audiences of Raff's time, as well), or the opening of the fourth movement, in which fragments of what is eventually to become the primary thematic material shuttle about before coagulating into place.

The second piece on this release, "Jubel Overture", is not on a par with the symphony. Nevertheless, despite the carping of our deaf friend of Ives mentioned above, it is not "boring" or "uninspired". It is, at the very least, far superior to anything in Ives's catalogue. In sum, this is a well-composed concert overture, tastefully done, in accord with Raff's typical usage.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An attractive and well played symphony 7 Dec 2012
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Joseph Joachim Raff's eleven symphonies receive the occasional recording though remain strangers to the concert hall (as far as I can see). If you are looking for something out of the ordinary among high romantic symphonism, however, they are one of the obvious places to go to. Though the basic tonal language is reminiscent of Schumann and Mendelssohn, Raff's music is - contrary to some claims - not without a certain personal touches, and he was an excellent craftsman wih more than the occasional first-rate idea. The seventh symphony, "In the Alps", dates from 1875 and seems not to be among the more popular of his symphonies, but it is nevertheless a good example of his craft, with plenty of inspired passages and moments.

The first movement, "Wanderung im Hochgebirge" ("wandering in the high mountains"), is a substantial one, though despite its substantial duration it never outstays its welcome. Richard Strauss it isn't, but its generally sunny character is atmospheric enough and the movement pulls you along even if it is hard to find any clear, narrative momentum (it does not employ sonata form, for instance). The second movement, "In der Herberge", is enjoyable with touches of Mendelssohnian impishness (though it is dance-like rather than fiery), and the third, "Am See" ("by the lake") is beautiful and moving, and delectably scored. The finale, "Beim Schwingfest", is a jolly affair without any of the gravitas one might have expected from a finale, though it brings this very attractive work to a compelling close. Overall, the music might strike one as conservative - if very compelling - but there are some interesting and surprising touches in terms of both color and form.

The coupling is a relatively hollow Jubilee Overture, which - as so many similar occasional works (and it is an occasional work written to celebrate the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Prince Adolf, Duke of Nassau) - is predictably based on the tune of God Save the Queen, which is used in a lot of places as a Royal or National anthem so there is no British connection. It works little better than the numerous other occasional works based on that tune, being a pretty boring, bombastic affair, that even Raff's scoring abilites are unable to save. The performances by the Philharmonia Hungarica are very good, though, with plenty of color and warmth, and Werner Andreas Albert leads a performance with plenty of spirit and verve and forward drive. The sound is good, as are the notes. In the end, this may not be music to shake the world, but the symphony is compelling and enjoyable, and should appeal to anyone who enjoys the byways of romantic music.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Raff's Swiss 'Pastorale' Symphony 5 Sep 2004
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
This is part of what appears to be an ongoing series of releases of Raff's symphonies by the Philharmonic Hungarica, a Hungarian émigré group that ceased to exist in 2001. This recording was made in 1991. The sound is quite acceptable nonetheless.

Raff's Seventh Symphony is subtitled 'In den Alpen' ('In the Alps') and it paints pictures of both the landscape (in I & III) and the culture (II & IV). I, at 18 minutes is by far the longest. Subtitled 'Wanderung im Hochgebirge' ('Hike in the High Mountains') it begins with a maestoso unison four-note theme (c G d c)that conjures up the majesty of the Alpine peaks. It is cast as a fairly standard sonata-allegro and, aside from a jaunty second theme introduced by the bassoons, the thematic materials are rather mundane. This is the least successful movement of the four. It doesn't help that the bassoons don't accent the second theme vigorously enough to give it the profile it acquires when taken up later by other instruments (and, indeed, when the theme reappears in the coda of the Finale). II, subtitled 'In der Herberge' ('In the Inn'), is a rustic 3/4 dance, a sort of scherzo. One very nice bit of color in the Trio is the set of allegro countermelodies by clarinets and then flutes in thirds chasing each other all around the main theme. Both this and the fourth movement remind me in tone of Karl Goldmark's 'Rustic Wedding' Symphony. III, 'Am See' ('By the lake'), is a serenely beautiful larghetto. (Quite by chance, one time when I was taking a walk [not in the Alps, but in the flat landscape of Kansas!] and listening to the symphony on my Discman, I came to a small lake just as this movement began. I had to chuckle.) IV, 'Beim Schwingfest,' ('At the swingfest,' a Swiss shepherds' celebration) depicts peasant revelry. It begins with a typical Swiss music-box tune played in high winds and strings. Later this tune becomes the bass line of an oom-pah band section. Much fun is had by all, but close to the end there is a short, sad 'Abschied' ('Farewell') section before a rollicking coda brings us to the conclusion of the symphony.

The 'Jubelouvertüre' ('Jubilee Overture') is an occasional piece written in 1864 in honor of Adolf, Duke of Nassau, on the 25th anniversary of his reign; it was just in time, too, because he lost his throne two years later when his territory was annexed by Prussia. For reasons quite beyond me, this piece is a set of free variations on 'God Save the King' (in America, 'America'). Perhaps Adolf had a connection to the British royal family that I'm unaware of, or perhaps the tune was used in other countries besides England and America. At any rate, this is a second-rate piece that alternates between bombast and uninspired musing. Its second theme, based on the harmonies of the original tune, is little more than slow triadic arpeggios. Boring. (I much prefer Charlie Ives's set of variations on this tune.) But it's nicely played, for all that.

TT=65:38

Scott Morrison
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