Magazine article Gramophone

Third Disc in Nguyen's Grand Piano Raff Exploration

Magazine article Gramophone

Third Disc in Nguyen's Grand Piano Raff Exploration

Article excerpt

Raff

'Piano Works, Vol 3'

Album lyrique, Op 17. Cinq Eclogues, Op 105.

Impromptu-valse, Op 94. Fantaisie-polonaise,

Op 106

Tra Nguyen pf

Grand Piano (F) GP634 (77' * DDD)

Joachim Raff's journey from humble beginnings to a sky-high reputation was followed by decline and fall. Today, most of his works languish in oblivion, which makes Tra Nguyen's persuasive series of recordings, of which this is Vol 3, a double asset. Yet Raff's neglect is understandable; and listening to this recital, however admirably presented, you are struck by the way so much of the music glides into a gently soporific idiom, too restricted and respectable to hold your attention. True, Raff s generally placid nature can erupt into something more dramatic (the Ballade from the Album lyrique) but for much of the time he is so enveloped in his homely charm that piece after piece, whether Reverie, Romance or Nocturne, become undifferentiated.

This makes those moments when, as Mark Thomas tells us in his booklet-note, Raff 'ratchets up the speed' especially welcome. The Scherzo and the grandiose Introduction and Fugue of the Album lyrique or the concluding Fantaisie-polonaise (marked energico)come like a breath of fresh air. …

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