Raff: Piano Trios No 1 & 4 / Trio Opus 8

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Joachim Raff's (1822-82) First and Fourth trios exhibit many of the same qualities found on the previous CPO disc of Nos. 2 & 3, reviewed earlier. A consummate craftsman, Raff paid particular attention to such things as motivic and rhythmic development and careful part-writing, which, combined with a flair for expressing genuine emotion, give his chamber works a distinctive sound and compelling character. This is especially evident in Trio No. 1 (1861), the most popular of the four and one of two in the minor mode. A grim introduction soon leads to a roiling, passionate allegro. Next, a galloping scherzo seems to be taking the first movement material out for a night-ride, while the following langsam movement is a song-like rhapsody that once again displays Raff's talent for melodies that speak from the heart. The finale closes the work in a demonically Beethovenian vein, with some dance music thrown in for good measure.

Trio No. 4 (1870) launches in a challengingly fast 12/8 meter, creating an effect not unlike Schubert's Trout Quintet. Most interesting however is the Andante quasi larghetto, with its mournful Venetian Gondola Song first heard on the solo cello. From this opening Raff builds an Elegy of considerable expressive power before closing with a reprise of the plaintive melody. After this exquisite movement, the material of the robust finale seems rather prosaic, and it takes all the energy, imagination, and commitment Trio Opus 8 can muster to hold your interest. That they do is testament to the superlative talent of these three fine musicians, who shine in the remaining movements of both trios as well. As before, CPO's recording is close in perspective but manages to capture more bass information this time around. Both discs in this series are excellent, but this one is the top choice.
--Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 999616-2

  • UPC: 761203961627

  • Label: CPO

  • Composer: Joachim Raff

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Opus 8 Trio

  • Performer: Eckhard Fischer, Mario de Secondi, Michael Hauber