In 2016 with the wonderful pianist Taeyeon Lim I released a CD of the complete works for cello and piano by Joachim Raff. Raff’s name is sadly not very well known. He was a very popular romantic-era composer, and was thought of by many to be the equal of the greatest composers of the day. Tchaikovsky thought him to be a greater genius than Brahms, and the famous conductor and champion of Wagner and Brahms, Hans von Bulow, was a good friend and frequent performer of his works. Raff’s reputation died out for a myriad of reasons, one of which being that he wrote a large volume of music and not all of it is equally good. The works that are good are wonderful and deserve much more attention.
I came across this composer’s symphonies in 2014. I loved his music, so I arranged what was then the American west coast premiere of his Piano Trio no.4. It was soon after that that I discovered he had written a Cello Sonata, along with some other short works for cello and piano. In 2015 I premiered the Cello Sonata in Los Angeles. People loved the piece! With the help of Mark Thomas, a great Raff admirer and creator/manager of the website raff.org, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a recording of the complete works for cello and piano by Raff. With the funds in place, the recording was finished in 2016 and released last fall to positive reviews (Fanfare magazine, MusicWeb-International.com, amazon.com, raff.org.)
The primary reason why I made the recording was because I loved the music. Raff’s music has a charm and lightness that we don’t get from some of the more “serious” 19th century composers. His style is much more similar to Mendelssohn than to Brahms, and this combined with his respect for the baroque tradition and his forward-looking chromaticism made him a unique voice. It was an incredible experience to record the CD and I am happy that I did it!
If you want to buy the CD, visit the website of the company who released it, https://toccataclassics.com/product/joachim-raff-cello-piano/.
I hope you enjoy it!