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Raff: Symphonies No 3 & 4 / Hilary Wetton, Milton Keynes

Release Date: 08/10/1999 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55017   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Joseph Joachim Raff
Conductor:  Hilary Davan Wetton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milton Keynes City Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Raff's music is only recently coming to be as a fair representative of the German romantic mainstream. He has been relegated to the status of a post-Mendelssohn reject or even worse, a Lizst lackey, only good for orchestrating the master's suspiciously varied symphonic poems. However these finely crafted and immensely polished performances of these two symphonies prove otherwise. The Fourth is classically conceived with an expansive Allegro and beautifully pensive Andante matched by a short Scherzo and rumbustious Finale.

Indeed it is reminiscent of the Schumann 2nd in that the slow movement is placed third although there the obvious similarities end. Davan Wetton is a persuasive advocate of the music and the polish and care
Read more lavished on the music is something not to be found in Marco Polo's recording with Urs Schneider. Robert Dearling makes comparisons with Mendelssohn, something I am wont to agree with when hearing that feather-light Scherzo again! Hyperion place the Third after the Fourth and with good reason, as the former is the most expansive and thoughtfully original work from the coupling provided here.

This time Raff reverts to the more classical style in placing the slow movement second. I enjoyed the orchestra's waspish bait in the biting allegro assai that follows the Largo although Davan Wetton's slow tempo in the first movement is slightly out-of-sorts. The subtitle 'In the Forest' comes into the equation with the final Allegro, a veritable tour-de-force' of orchestral mastery and scenic painting.

If perhaps slightly on the slow side, Davan Wetton's visionary glimpsing of a romantic glade is unsurpassed for its dreaminess and magnificent period imagery. Horns and brass are gloriously prominent whilst the Milton Keynes strings are wonderfully alert and responsive. You cannot really call these works masterpieces, but they do provide some entertaining atmosphere and are a pleasant listen throughout. The Helios presentation is absolutely superb with copious notes (Dearling) and a stunning Dore' painting on the front cover aptly titled 'In the Forest'. For a little more than a fiver, who could possibly resist?!

-- Gerald Fenech, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 153 "Im Walde" by Joseph Joachim Raff
Conductor:  Hilary Davan Wetton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milton Keynes City Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Wiesbaden, Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/1992 
Length: 45 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Symphony no 4 in G minor, Op. 167 by Joseph Joachim Raff
Conductor:  Hilary Davan Wetton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milton Keynes City Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Wiesbaden, Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/1992 
Length: 33 Minutes 45 Secs. 

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