I will always remember my first reading of Joachim Raff's piano music in the British Library – in front of me was music filled with exquisite beauty, light and joy. It has been a privileged journey to discover and to recreate this wonderful sound world of the composer once again. – Tra Nguyen

"A performance of surpassing keyboard artistry and passion"
Steven Haller, American Record Guide for Tra Nguyen


The reputation of Joseph Joachim Raff was once so high that during the 1860s and 1870s he was regarded by many as the foremost symphonist of his day. Liszt was an early idol and lasting influence; Liszt was so impressed with the young man that in 1849 invited him to join him in Weimar, where Raff acted as his amanuensis until 1856.

Although primarily known as a symphonist, Raff was prolific in most genres, but by far his largest output was for the piano: there are over 130 works for the instrument, many of them with multiple movements or numbers.

The three piano works recorded here date from Raff's early years in Weimar, a time when he was revelling in the heady musical atmosphere of Liszt's circle. They illustrate how quickly he moved from writing which was heavily indebted to Chopin and Liszt (illustrated by the Fantaisie) to the maturity of the Drei Klavier-soli, in which these influences were absorbed and added to the earlier ones of Mendelssohn and Schumann to support Raff's eclectic, but wholly individual style.

Frühlingsboten, Op. 55 35:30
1 No. 1 Winterruhe: Andantino (01:54)
2 No. 2 Frühlingsnahen: Allegro non troppo, deciso (04:35)
3 No. 3 Gelübde: Grave (03:51)
4 No. 4 Unruhe: Allegro (01:52)
5 No. 5 Annäherung: Andantino (02:45)
6 No. 6 Wirrniss: Vivace (02:23)
7 No. 7 Vorwurf: Andante non troppo (04:07)
8 No. 8 Fern: Andantino (01:56)
9 No. 9 Frohe Kunde: Presto (02:27)
10 No. 10 Zu zwei: Andante (02:34)
11 No. 11 Ohne Ruh': Allegro (02:57)
12 No. 12 Abends: Larghetto (04:09)


Drei Klavier-Soli, Op. 74 (29:08)
13 No. 1 Ballade: Andantino, quasi larghetto (10:33)
14 No. 2 Scherzo: Presto (06:11)
15 No. 3 Metamorphosen: Andante (12:24)

Fantaisie (12:09)
16. Andante (12:09)




British-Vietnamese pianist Tra Nguyen gave her first performance at the Hanoi Opera House when she was ten and has continued to engage audiences in other important venues worldwide. She studied with Lev Naumov at the Moscow Conservatory and with Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Her orchestral recording d├ębut of Joachim Raff's Suite for Piano and Orchestra was chosen as Album of the Week by The Independent in March 2010. Other recordings include chamber music with the clarinettist Sabine Grofmeier, featuring works of the German romantics and their contemporaries. Her imaginative programming balances core repertoire and lesser-known music, winning critical praise.

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Short interview about Raff's piano music on YouTube  

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