Raff's piano compositions earned him considerable acclaim in his lifetime. The four volumes of Blatter und Bluten (Leaves and Blossoms) consist of twelve deliciously melodic and colourful depictions of the then popular vogue for 'The Language of Flowers'. By contrast, the Grande Sonate is a late work conceived on a quasi-symphonic scale. One of Raff's major statements, it encompasses a bleak nobility that represents the culmination of his writing for the piano.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The fifth volume in this Raff series is a tale of two cities. On the one hand, we get a superb performance of Raff’s finest piano work, the Grande Sonate. This is an underrated gem of the sonata literature and receives a warm and sympathetic performance by Tra Nguyen. On the other hand, the disc is saddled with 30 minutes of salon miniatures that are banal and forgettable.
The Grande Sonate in E-flat minor (1881) is one of Raff’s greatest piano works. With it he abandons the frivolities of the salon and has serious-minded aims. The striving and noble “Allegro” is evidence of this. It’s enveloped in Baroque garb, replete with dense counterpoint and full organ-like sonorities. Raff is unable to keep the salon at bay, however, in the frothy “Allegro molto.” This bubbling high-register intermezzo inhabits the world of Schumann and Chopin. With the “Larghetto” Raff achieves tremendous power via dramatic climaxes and harmony...
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