"Raff’s writings consistently show a deep understanding of the piano’s mechanism and its colour palette, though there is little recorded evidence that he played or performed as a pianist. I simply put it down to his time spent in Weimar as a close associate of Liszt where he was eager to get acquainted with the piano literature and with Liszt’s own writings. Then, the 12 Romance en forme d’Etude Op. 8 came as a surprise: this elegant virtuosic set was composed well before he left Switzerland. Here Raff embedded pianistic challenges beautifully, almost innately, which prompted Mendelssohn to recommend him to Breitkopf and Hartel. This is a young man’s writings: the heartfelt joy and sincerity makes you want to dance and sing along." – Tra Nguyen

Listen to: La Cicerenella, Op. 165 , 1. Presto

Watch Tra Nguyen play


© HNH International

Volume four of the Piano Music series traces Raff from youth to maturity. Douze Romances en forme d’études, Op. 8 was written when he was just 21 and unsure whether to commit himself to full–time composition. Mendelssohn was so impressed by the set of charming character pieces that he recommended them to his own publisher. The much later 1871 La Cicerenella – Nouveau Carnaval, Op. 165 is a set of virtuoso variations, whilst the Two Pieces, Op. 166 offer both charm and melodic distinction.


LA CICERENELLA, OP. 165 (08:10)
1 Presto (Capriccioso) – La Cicerenella – Variation 1 (01:48)
2 Variation 2 (00:28)
3 Variation 3 (00:25)
4 Variation 4 (00:26)
5 Variation 5 (00:36)
6 Variation 6 (00:20)
7 Variation 7 (00:23)
8 Variation 8: Piu mosso (00:20)
9 Variation 9: Ancora piu mosso (00:26)
10 Variation 10: Larghetto (01:49)
11 Variation 11: Presto (00:12)
12 Variation 12 (00:12)
13 Variation 13 e coda – prestissimo (00:45)

14 No. 1. L’Abbandonata: Allegro moderato (02:58)
15 No. 2. Pastorale: Andante (02:41)
16 No. 3. Il Fuggitivo: Allegro agitato quasi presto (00:55)
17 No. 4. L’Amicizia: Andantino (02:22)


18 No. 5. Il Pianto dell’ Amante: Adagio ma non troppo (04:51)
19 No. 6. Il Delirio: Allegro molto agitato cioe smanioso (02:31)
20 No. 7. Barcarola: Allegretto (02:41)
21 No. 8. Preghiera: Andante religioso (03:12)
22 No. 9. Il Gladiatori: Presto di bravura (01:55)
23 No. 10. Mazurka: Allegro moderato (03:22)
24 No. 11. La Contentezza: Andante (02:09)
25 No. 12. Polonaise: Alla Polacca (04:53)

2 PIECES, OP. 166 (10:32)
26 No. 1. Idylle: Andante (04:56 )
27 No. 2. Valse Champetre: Allegro (05:36)

ALLEGRO AGITATO, OP. 151 (05:27)

  World Première Recordings  



© Anh Hieu Studio

British–Vietnamese Tra Nguyen gave her first concert, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto, K488 with the Hanoi Conservatory Orchestra. Since then she has continued to engage audiences in other important venues worldwide. Recent and future performances include Queen Elizabeth Hall, Tokyo Opera City, Hong Kong City Recital Hall and Wigmore Hall amongst others. Her imaginative programming balances core repertoire and lesser–known music, winning critical praises. Her discography introduces many world première recordings of neglected music. Her most recent recordings of the piano music of Joachim Raff were chosen as Album of the Week by The Independent in March 2010 and in April 2012. Tra studied with Lev Naumov at the Moscow Conservatory and with Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music where she received the Academy’s highest award for her final recital.

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"Tra Nguyen shows what an original and brilliant voice Raff's is"
The Independent Album of the Week
  "The gold standard by which future performers of Raff will be judged."
MusicWeb International
  "The Impromptu–Valse absolutely sparkles under her fingers"
International Piano

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