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Raff: Songs / Andrea Meláth, Emes Virág


Release Date: 11/30/2004 
Label:  Hungaroton   Catalog #: 32256   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Emese VirágAndrea Meláth
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Joachim Raff (1822–1882), largely dismissed today as just another minor German Romantic composer, enjoyed in his time a reputation that equaled those of Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. He was highly prolific, producing everything from opera, oratorio, and song, to concerto, chamber works, tone poems, symphonies, piano sonatas, and solo piano pieces. Even Franz Liszt held Raff in such high regard that he engaged Raff to orchestrate his early tone poems. So what happened? Well, to quote Dr. Alan Krueck, professor of music at California University of Pennsylvania: “Allied early in his career with Liszt and the New German School, Raff dared to question Wagner’s ideas polemically. Unwanted by the conservatives, and himself Read more rejecting the circle with which he was most often associated, he isolated himself between the two most important poles of musical politics during his life. An impeccable craftsman for whom all matters of music were second nature, he could be totally uncritical of the materials he used in his compositions, placing movements of soaring inspiration and incredible invention next to ones of embarrassing dross, pairing the simpleminded with the sublime.”

In a review of Raff symphonies in Fanfare, I quoted Dr. Krueck at greater length, but concluded that perhaps his judgment was a bit too harsh. Listening to this new CD of Raff songs, I’m not so sure now that Dr. Krueck was off the mark. One hour and 19 songs later, I cannot honestly say that most of these numbers rise above the pedestrian. With but a single exception, the “soaring inspiration and incredible invention” of which Dr. Krueck speaks are in short supply. That one exception is Ave Maria set to a poem by Ernst. It does have a soaring melody line and a running, Mendelssohnian, arpeggiated accompaniment that make it stand out among an otherwise pretty but prosaic progression of pieces. When Heine’s Lorelei has been set by at least two dozen composers, including Mendelssohn and Liszt, and Goethe’s Rastlose Liebe is “owned” by Schubert, it is hard to avoid comparisons, and Raff, I’m afraid, does not fare well in the match. Please do not infer from the above that any of these songs fall ungratefully on the ear. Raff’s compositional skill was such that he could craft perfectly suitable, if not always perfectly characterized, music for his chosen texts. His preference seems to have been for non-strophic, freer-verse poetry, which allowed him to write phrases of irregular lengths, and to counterbalance melody with recitative-like asides. This is particularly evident in the Maria Stuart songs—Nach der Geburt ihres Sohnes, Gebet, and Abschied von der Welt—all of which are non-metrical and open verse in form.

It would not be accurate to say that Raff is derivative of other composers. In fact, given the esteem in which he was held during his lifetime, it is more likely that other composers derived ideas from him, and then improved upon them. This is not to say, however, that you will hear in Raff an entirely original or unique voice. As I listened to this recital, the two song writers that came most frequently to mind were Mendelssohn and Schumann, but not Felix or Robert; no, Fanny and Clara. If you are familiar with and appreciate their songs, you will enjoy Raff’s.

As for the performances, one could not ask for better. I had not previously heard either of these Hungarian artists, both of whom received training at Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt Academy, but Andrea Meláth possesses a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice, and she is accompanied most ably by Emese Virág. The Hungaroton recording strikes a fine balance between them. My only minor quibble concerns the English text translations, which in places—Kein Graben so breit becomes “No ditch is too wide”—could have been a bit more . . . well, shall I say . . . poetic? This makes a very nice, if not indispensable, addition to the collection of German Romantic Lieder.

Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: no 21, Die Nonne by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Emese Virág (Piano), Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 2 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
2.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: Leb' wohl by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano), Emese Virág (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 3 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
3.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: Keine Sorg' um den Weg by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Emese Virág (Piano), Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
4.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: Das verlassene Mädchen by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano), Emese Virág (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 2 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
5.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: Müllerlied No. 2 by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano), Emese Virág (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 1 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
6.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: Mädchenlied by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano), Emese Virág (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 2 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
7.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: Müllerlied No. 1 by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Emese Virág (Piano), Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
8.
Maria Stuart, Op. 172: no 10, Vor dem Gang zum Schaffot by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Emese Virág (Piano), Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; Wiesbaden, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003) 
9.
Maria Stuart, Op. 172: no 9, Nach der Geburt ihres Sohnes by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Emese Virág (Piano), Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; Wiesbaden, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 4 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003) 
10.
Maria Stuart, Op. 172: no 5, Gebet by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano), Emese Virág (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; Wiesbaden, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 2 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003) 
11.
Maria Stuart, Op. 172: no 4, Abschied von der Welt by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Emese Virág (Piano), Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; Wiesbaden, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003) 
12.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: Geständniss der Liebe by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano), Emese Virág (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 2 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
13.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: Ave Maria by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Emese Virág (Piano), Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 4 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
14.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: no 16, Die Hochzeitsnacht by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano), Emese Virág (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 9 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
15.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: no 4, Blätter und Lieder by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Emese Virág (Piano), Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 2 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
16.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: Der Ungetreuen by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano), Emese Virág (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 
17.
Sanges-Frühling (30), Op. 98: no 23, Rastlose Liebe by Joseph Joachim Raff
Performer:  Andrea Meláth (Mezzo Soprano), Emese Virág (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Hungaroton Studio 
Length: 1 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Hungaroton Studio (06/16/2003 - 07/08/2003)
Composition written: Weimar, Germany (1855 - 1863). 

Sound Samples

Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 4. Blatter und Lieder
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 5. Leb' wohl
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 10. Keine Sorg' um den Weg
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 14. Das verlassene Madchen
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 15. Mullerlied No. 2
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 22. Madchenlied
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 12. Der Ungetreuen
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 1. Das Schloss am Meer
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 21. Die Nonne
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 13. Mullerlied No. 1
Maria Stuart, Op. 172: No. 10. Vor dem Gang zum Schaffot
Maria Stuart, Op. 172: No. 9. Nach der Geburt ihres Sohnes
Maria Stuart, Op. 172: No. 12. Gebet
Maria Stuart, Op. 172: No. 11. Abschied von der Welt
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 30. Gestandniss der Liebe
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 17. Ave Maria
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 23. Rastlose Liebe
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 26. Loreley
Sangesfruhling, Op. 98: No. 16. Die Hochzeitsnacht

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