SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

JOACHIM RAFF: Symphony No. 2; Four Shakespeare Preludes – Suisse Romande/ Neeme Jarvi – Chandos

A good but not exceptional recording and performance of this now obscure Swiss composer.

Published on June 21, 2013

JOACHIM RAFF: Symphony No. 2; Four Shakespeare Preludes  – Suisse Romande/ Neeme Jarvi – Chandos multichannel SACD CHSA 5117, 77:47 [Distr. by Naxos] ***:

The Symphony No. 2 was written in 1866 by Swiss composer Joachim Raff. Raff was a self-taught musician, who worked as a schoolmaster. Some of his early works were sent to Mendelssohn, and Raff’s popularity grew to where he was one of the most performed composer in Switzerland and Germany. But Raff is fairly obscure today, though there are about 85 recordings today dedicated either wholly pr partially to his work.

This new recording with Neeme Järvi is the 4th recording available of the 2nd Symphony, and the only one in hi-res audio.

The performance of the 2nd is well played by the Orchestra de la Suisee Romande. The recording shows off the music well, especially in the 4th movement which is broadly played and rich in instrumental colors.  The other four works on the disc are the Orchestral Preludes to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Macbeth. All were written in 1879 and each works reflects something of the mood of the play the preludes were named after.

From an audio standpoint,  the recording is fine but not exceptional. The recording is a 5.0.. The microphones seem to be pretty far back in the hall, and the rear channels are for ambiance only.

—Mel Martin

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