This is the second volume in a series from Neeme Järvi and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande dedicated to the orchestral music of the Swiss-born composer Joachim Raff. Although he was a highly popular and prolific composer during his day, his works quickly fell out of the repertoire after his death and are largely forgotten today. The idiomatic performances by Neeme Järvi and his Swiss orchestra in Volume 1, described as ‘peerless’ by BBC Music (*****), suggest that they are the perfect performers to reinvigorate interest in Raff’s music. This second volume features the rhapsody, Abends, and a number of overtures and preludes alongside Symphony No. 5. Subtitled Lenore, the fifth is one of Raff’s so-called programme symphonies, the only one based on a precise extra-musical source: Gottfried August Bürger’s poetic ballad of the same name. The shorter works show very different sides of Raff’s compositional personality.
This disc marks the beginning of a new series, dedicated to the engaging, albeit neglected, orchestral works of the German-Swiss composer Joachim Raff. The survey starts with Symphony No. 2 and the orchestral preludes to four plays by Shakespeare: The Tempest, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Othello, all idiomatically performed by the Orchestre de la Suisse romande, conducted by its new Artistic and Music Director, Neeme Järvi.
Born in Margherita di Savoia, Italy on September 19, 1959, Raffaele Riefoli entered the music business in 1983, when his debut album was released as Raff. Riefoli lived the few first years of the 1980s in London, England, before starting out his musical career in 1984, landing mostly in the new wave scene with his English language debut album, Raff. His first single, "Self Control", which he co-wrote with Giancarlo Bigazzi and Steve Piccolo, was a huge hit not only in his native Italy but also in Austria (#7), Switzerland (#1) and Germany, where the single climbed as high as #2 in the Media Control single chart and spent a total of seven weeks within the Top 10. Raff's version of the song also managed to enter the Top-40 in France.