- Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 202/2
- Piano Quartet in G major, Op. 202/1
Since the 1980s, the revival of the Romantic music of Joseph Joachim Raff has been centered in Switzerland, where the native-born composer has inspired considerable national pride. This 2011 release was recorded in 2009 in the Salle de Musique of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, so the Ensemble Il Trittico and guest violist David Greenlees performed in a region where Raff enthusiasm is encouraged. Raff's two piano quartets of 1876 are charming works in a familiar 19th century parlor style, and their source of inspiration is the German tradition of Mendelssohn and Schumann. The two works are expressive and at times poignant, but emotion is never promoted at the expense of classical form or time-honored techniques of development and counterpoint. Raff's facility and prolificity were in large part responsible for the suspicion and neglect that attended his music after his death, and it must be admitted that his skill and erudition yielded music of a fairly predictable and tame nature. Yet for all his observance of conventions, Raff always offered idiomatic writing for his instruments and created melodies that were attractive and memorable. Ensemble Il Trittico lends a gemütlich character to the music that makes it ingratiating, and the high-quality SACD multichannel format makes the instruments sound clear, warm, and full. This album is a fine introduction to Raff, and if it doesn't win many converts to his cause, it at least brings to light two unfairly neglected works.