Joachim Raff Symphonies Complete

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1. Symphony No. 1 in D Major Op. 96 "To The Fatherland" (1859)
Joachim Raff
 Joachim Raff
Conducted by Hans Stadlmair with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

I. Allegro - 00:00
II. Scherzo - Allegro Vivace - 18:10
III. Larghetto - 25:55
IV. Allegro Drammatico - 39:01
V. Larghetto Sostenuto - 50:35

The Symphony No. 1 in D major, Opus 96, carries the title "An das Vaterland" and was started in 1859, after the Peace of Villafranca and completed in 1861. It received an award from the Vienna Philharmonic Society with a prize jury that included Hiller, Reinecke, Ambros, Volkmann and Vincenz Lachner. In the first movement Raff sets out to depict various aspects of the German character, from the opening optimism to depth of thought, decency and triumphant endurance.

Opening with an energetic sweep of Wagnerian sound, the first movement develops in more formal terms, with a strongly contrapuntal element. The Scherzo allows the horns to suggest the German forest and those that work there, with the folk-song of girls and young men in the meadows of the countryside. The slow movement starts with a strongly felt theme, moving to music that is more gently lyrical in feeling, suggesting the family and the home and developed contrapuntally and dramatically, with due reference to material from the preceding movements.
The declared drama of the fourth movement makes use of a well-known patriotic song, a setting by Reichardt of words by the ardent nationalist Ernst Moritz Arndt, Was ist des deutschen Vaterland?, in a plea for national unity, an emphatically patriotic statement, before the sombre ending. In the final Larghetto sostenuto Raff at first expresses something of the sadness felt at the troubles of the whole of Germany, moving forward to a new hope, and culminating in a spirit of national triumph. In spite of its considerable length and apparent digressions, the symphony is, all in all, remarkably unified in structure, in thematic material and in general intention.

2. Symphony No. 2 in C Minor Op. 140 (1866)
Conducted by Hans Stadlmair with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

I. Allegro - 00:00
II. Andante Con Moto - 11:37
III. Allegro Vivace - 22:07
IV. Andante Maestoso - Allegro Con Spirito - 27:48

"The Symphony No.2 in C op 140, together with his other early symphonies, amply explains Raff's reputation in the 1860s and 70s as the leading symphonist of the age. Although this contemporary acclaim has been derided in the twentieth century the craftsmanship, melodic inventiveness, skill in orchestration and poetic appeal of this symphony go a long way towards supporting the high opinion then held of Raff as a symphonic composer. This work was premiered in 1867 - a time when there were few symphonists of stature."

"The 2nd. is an open-air, sunny work - not lacking in gravitas but with a pervading confident and pastoral feel. Raff scored for his usual modestly sized orchestra and the work opens, as was often his practice, with a straightforward statement of the Allegro's principle theme - initially heard on the clarinets and violas and then the horns. The confident and happy mood of this movement is maintained through the transition to the second subject which continues the outdoor atmosphere. The extended movement ends in a forceful reprise of the opening theme."

"The slow movement Andante con moto is rather religious in character, but contemplative rather than tragic. The two main themes are treated contrapuntally in the central section before the second theme returns in an enhanced and more dramatic treatment. The movement ends with the opening melody gently dying away."

"The third movement is a delicately scored Scherzo enveloping a Trio which, whilst the material is contrasting and rather more lightly scored than the outer sections, nonetheless is less of a contrast than this traditional structure might imply. Though Mendelssohn appears to have been the inspiration for this movement, the scoring is rather more robust than his gossamer textures - perhaps scampering woodland creatures were in Raff's mind, rather than Mendelssohnian fairies."

"The final movement opens with an extended and rather grand Andante Maestoso lasting almost 3 minutes before a short transition to the Allegro con spirito itself. This main section of the movement introduces the first theme proper which is indeed "spirited" and characterises the rest of this boisterous and satisfying finale. The work closes with a whirlwind restatement of the principal theme, suitably augmented and embellished."-

3. Symphony No. 3 in F Major Op. 153 "Im Walde" (1869)
Conducted by Hans Stadlmair with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

I. Part One: In the Daytime. Impressions and Feelings - 00:00
II. Part Two: In the Twilight.- Dreaming - 14:21
III. Part Two - Dance of the Dryads - 22:58
IV. Part Three: At Night. The living stillness of night in the Forest. Arrival and departure of the Wild Hunt, with Frau Holle and Wotan - Daybreak - 27:45

"Raff's fame as a symphonist was assured by the Symphony No.3 in F Im Walde (In the Forest) op.153. Together with the later Lenore, it was amongst the most played of modern symphonies in its day, taking his name to both England and America. Its dramatic pictorialism seems to have created a sensation when it was first heard - an effect only lessened by his style later becoming common currency from many composers. With this work, Raff was indeed an innovator."

"As a true romantic, he was greatly influenced by nature - six of his nine programme symphonies relate to nature in one form or another, as do many of his other compositions. As a German, he had a particular feeling for his country's woods and forests. He wrote the work in Wiesbaden in 1869 and it was premiered in his old home of Wiemar on Easter Sunday, 1870 with great success. The acclaim for it continued throughout the rest of his life: an American critic described it as "the best Symphony of modern times, one of the very few which are worthy to go down in posterity in company with the works of Beethoven and Schumann". After one performance at which Raff was present "a complete hurricane went through the house" and Raff mounted the podium "amidst barbaric jubilation from the audience". Hans von Bülow described the symphony's success as "colossal"."

The Wald-Symphonie was one of the most significant results of this period of his life and was regarded for long as his masterpiece. The work is in four movernents, included in three parts. The first part, Am Tage (By Day), like the tenth symphony, gives impressions and feelings aroused by the forest. The second part, which includes a slow movernent and the counterpart of a Scherzo, moves to evening twilight, In der Dämmerung, with Träumerei (Dreams) and a following Tanz der Dryaden (Dance of the Dryads), in the spirit of Mendelssohn. The third part, Nachts (At Night), has a more explicit programme. The stillness of the night is followed by the wild hunt of Teutonic mythology, led by Wotan (Odin) and the wintry Frau Holle. Dawn breaks and the symphony ends in triumph.

4. Symphony No. 4 in G Minor Op. 163 (1871)
Conducted by Hans Stadlmair with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

I. Allegro - 00:00
II. Allegro Molto - 10:14
III. Andante - Non Troppo Mosso - 14:57
IV. Allegro - Vivace - 24:46

"Perhaps because of his rather misleading reputation as a writer of programme symphonies, Raff's Symphony No.4 in g op.167 tends to be overlooked in his canon. His daughter recalled that he used to joke that the patter of "the little child's feet" could be heard in the work's second movement (she was six years old when it was being written), but there is no real evidence that Raff ever had a programme in mind when writing it - a distinction which it shares with the Symphony No.2 alone."

"Coming hard on the heels of the successes of the "Forest" Symphony No.3 and the Opera Dame Kobold, the g minor symphony was taken up quickly by orchestras and had its premiere on 8 February 1872 in a concert at the Royal Hoftheatre in Wiesbaden under Wilhelm Jahn. More performances followed in the same year. On 25 October it was conducted by Karl Müller in Frankfurt and only six days later it was given under Raff's baton at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Helene Raff records in her biography: "It always won enthusiastic approval from the orchestra and the public; at the time it increased the delight of [his] colleagues. 'Enormously fresh, spontaneous, spirited, lovely' - wrote [Hans von] Bülow about it to a musical friend. With greatest warmth, even enthusiasm, Franz Wüllner and Josef Rheinberger wrote to Raff after the November 1872 Munich performance of the g minor symphony. 'The splendid work in which I marvel along with all preceding ones' - wrote Rheinberger who had a deep respect and recognition for Raff and made it known on every occasion".

"The work soon left Germany's borders. It was played in Brussels in February 1873 with the Belgian violin virtuoso and composer Henri Vieuxtemps conducting. He wrote to Raff about the success of the "amazing g minor symphony" and reported that there was "a unaminous call for its repeat in the next concert". He urged Raff, in spite of the distance and bad traveling season to make the trip to the Belgian capital to hear his work himself "and see how great the number of his admirers was". Raff did not go - it was not an unusual request as his fame was spreading rapidly at this time." -

The Symphony No. 4 in G minor, Opus 167, was completed in 1871, a work that, like the Second Symphony, has no programmatic element. It is scored for a characteristic orchestra with pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings. The precisely constructed first movement of the G minor Symphony is dominated by the opening figure of the first subject, contrasted with a lighter hearted second subject entrusted to the woodwind. The second movement is a scherzo and trio that suggests a Mendelssohn, weightier with middle age, but nevertheless retaining technical mastery of the orchestral means available. This is followed by a slow movement that recalls Beethoven in solemn mood, sometimes overtly, before moving into more openly romantic territory. The theme that started the symphony introduces the last movement, leading, by way of a brief cello recitative, to a lively oboe theme and a vigorous text-book finale, with a very proper admixture of counterpoint and optimism.

5. Symphony No. 5 in E Major "Lenore" Op. 177 (1872)
Bernard Hermann with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, 1970 legendary recording of possibly the greatest symphony of the Romantic era. This recording jump started the revival of Raff's works.

I. "Love's Bliss" - Allegro - 00:00
II. "Love's Bliss" - Andante Quasi Larghetto - 15:04
III. "Separation" - Marsch Tempo - Agitato - 29:07
IV. "Reunited in Death" - Allegro - 41:43

Raff's Symphony No.5 in E Lenore op.177 is generally regarded as being amongst the best of the eleven surviving symphonies and is probably also the best known today. Described by Donald Ellman as "a most important pivotal work between early and late-romantic styles", Lenore represents the high point of Raff's attempt to combine traditional symphonic structures with romantic pictorialism. Despite following a programme not wholly of Raff's own devising, it is probably the most satisfying musically of his "programme" symphonies.

He began mulling over ideas for the work in 1870 and finished it during the summer of 1872. Since the huge success of the 3rd. Symphony, a new Raff symphony did not have long to wait for its premiere, which took place at a private performance in Sonderhausen in December 1872. Raff recorded that the audience (of 20!) "appeared beset with some fright". At the first public performance in Berlin the following year the work was very well received. Bechstein declared "It was an unbelievable success for Berlin". More performances quickly followed throughout Germany - followed by England and then America. Ebenezer Prout reported on Lenore's first English hearing "those who were present will remember the sensation created by its performance".

As he did with his third symphony, Raff grouped the work's four movements into three parts. The first part "Love's happiness" comprises the first two movements, the second - "Parting" - is the third movement whilst the fourth movement "Reunited in death" - is the last part.
Raff described the first movement as "longing for and striving after love's happiness". It has no direct relation to the Lenore ballad except to illustrate the happiness of the lovers. The movement, which is in sonata form, opens confidently with a surging "yearning" motif which sets the tenor of the piece - throughout the music is passionate and the thematic material is generally joyful, though in a several places the trombones briefly intone a sombre chorale as a foretaste of the tragedy in the last movement.

The second movement is in A flat major and has an ABA structure. It depicts, in Raff's words, "the enjoyment of love's happiness" and is a "love scene". Raff wrote that the movement begins with the onset of night and is followed by the two lovers talking, the "exchange of kisses" and then a more vigorous section which, though Raff did not go into detail, is perhaps a depiction of "enjoyment" on a more physical level! The earlier love theme returns and the movement ends with a repetition of the night music. This movement is intensely lyrical throughout; brimful of melody.

The third movement was Raff's most popular compositions and is a straightforward pictorial representation of, as Raff wrote: "the approach of an army corps to the abode of the lovers...the lovers bid farewell, and the division marches away". It is again an arching ABA structure, in C, with the central anguished "Parting" episode flanked by two march sections each constructed from the same two, deliberately brash, themes. The opening march is an extended crescendo and, after the trio, the second a matching long diminuendo - depicting in turn the approach and departure of the army. The varied and vibrant orchestration of these outer sections prevents boredom and the central trio, with its agonised dialogue between violins and cellos graphically portrays the lovers' agony.

The fourth movement, entitled "Reunited in death, Introduction and ballad (after G Bürger's Lenore)" is a literal portrayal of the events of the ballad and as such is more akin to a Lisztian symphonic poem, its free form being in e minor except for the E major close. The extended introduction reprises themes from the first three movements and these also recur later in the movement - often satirically transformed for dramatic effect. The nightmare horseride is graphically depicted by Raff using a perpetuum mobile theme which gathers in speed and rhythmic intensity as the movement progresses, underlying all the passing eerie episodes in the ballad - at some of which the trombone theme first heard in the opening movement makes its full appearance. Finally, the ride ceases at the graveside in a massive climax and then silence. Raff concludes the movement with a redeeming apotheosis in the form of a solemn and gentle E major chorale which begins softly, grows to a radiant climax and then ebbs away, higher and higher.

6. Symphony No. 6 in D Minor Op. 189 (1873)
Conducted by Urs Scheider with the Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra Kosice.

I. Lived - Struggled - Suffered - 00:00
II. Fought - 10:01
III. Died - 15:23
IV. Glorified - 27:45

"When Wilhelm Taubert premiered Raff's new symphony in Berlin's Royal Hofkapelle on 21 October 1874, expectations ran high. The composer's previous symphony, the Lenore, was already a huge success after only a couple of years, promising to outdo even his Im Walde Symphony in the public's affection. The Symphony No.6 in D op.189 was received well enough on the day, but it never garnered more than a success d'estime and in time it came to be regarded by his detractors as the first evidence of a decline in Raff's powers."

"Following the premiere, critics praised the scherzo - prompting Raff to write home testily to his wife: "The Berlin papers with their scherzo-enthusiasm are only partly correct as this piece was written with the most refined contrapuntal art, through which is delivered proof for all time that this highest of all forms has an appropriateness surpassing anything [which] they had thought". He went on "Uniquely, the symphony has its value in the unity by which the content was constrained (and of which the Gentlemen wanted to understand nothing), through the relation of the last to the first part and the way the relationship was laid out"."

"Knowing only the motto, contemporary critics were unimpressed: "The new Symphony by that sleepless and voluminous composer Raff, revealed no correspondence part for part, between its several movements and the section of the rhymed German motto..... The just a freakish, wild fantastic Scherzo, apropos of nothing.....Raff's picture is, as to its ambitious finale, no picture at all, but a great smudge of vivid colour made in the dark, as it would seem, with the brush of a house painter. Witnessing it, the eye is dazzled by glare without being conscious of form. We want to know what this means, what that is intended to convey, why our senses are harrowed in one place and soothed in another; but we ask, vainly, notwithstanding our acquaintance with the composer's general idea"." -

7. Symphony No. 7 in B Flat Major Op. 201 "In The Alps" (1875)
Conducted by Hans Stadlmair with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

I. Wandering in the High Mountains - 00:00
II. At The Inn - 16:20
III. On The Lake - 22:31
IV. At the Wrestling Contest - Farewell - 30:51

"Unlike Richard Strauss, the composer of another Alpine Symphony, in his own programme music Raff generally betrayed little that is clearly personal to him, born of his own feelings and experiences. His Op.201, the Symphony No.7 in B flat In den Alpen (In the Alps) is therefore unusual. He wrote it from the start as his musical homage to the country of his birth and childhood - Switzerland. Into it he poured his memories of the landscapes and people of his youth in Lachen, by the side of Lake Zürich." -

Symphony No. 7 in B flat major, Opus 201, is scored for full orchestra, pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons and trumpets, four horns, three trombones, timpani and triangle, and strings. It is a descriptive work, evoking the Swiss Alps of Raff's early years, and the first movement, Wanderung im Hochgebirge, Wandering in the High Mountains, starts with impressive grandeur, then turning in its slow introduction to suggestions of the natural beauty of the landscape, as the horns echo each other. The music is dominated by a familiar melody that returns to end the introduction and will be heard again. The principal theme of the Allegro appears first in the bassoon, followed by the flute. A gentler Alpine melody is entrusted to the horn, followed by the oboe, and this and other thematic material is developed with all the craft at Raff's disposal, with much use of sequence, before the re-appearance of the principal subject in recapitulation, followed by the themes of the second subject group and a fugal treatment of the main theme of the introduction. The second movement, In der Herberge, In the Inn, opens in G minor with a gently lilting theme introduced by the strings, joined by bassoons, with a yodelling cello melody in accompaniment, as the music swells into a major key German dance. There is a modulation into C major and a romantic melody introduced by the violas. Clarinets and flutes sport on the slopes in a cheerful E flat, before the return of the G minor theme of the opening, moving forward to a happier triumphant G major before a G minor coda.

There follows a slow movement, Am See, On the Lake, with a tranquil C major theme given to violas and bassoon, before emerging from the depths with flutes, oboes and horns adding to the picture, to which the timpani add an occasional menacing dimension. The symphony ends Beim Schwingfest; Abschied, At the Festival; Departure. The Schwingfest is a peculiarly Swiss sport for festival days. Here contestants try to throw each other, using the left hand, with the right hand in the belt. The music represents the sport with cheerful light-heartedness. The first theme is followed by a clod-hopping heavy-footed measure from the bass instruments. The dotted rhythms of a fiercer G minor episode usher in contrapuntal treatment of earlier themes, reminiscences even of the opening of the symphony, before a triumphant and very Swiss conclusion to a work that is further testimony to the technical proficiency of Raff and to his creativity as a symphonist.

8. Symphony No. 8 in A Major Op. 205 "Sounds of Spring" (1876)
Conducted by Hans Stadlmair with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

I. Spring's Return - Allegro - 00:00
II. During Walpurgis night - Allegro - 12:49
III. With the first bunch of flowers - Larghetto - 19:45
IV. Wanderlust - Vivace - 27:24

"Works about Spring appear throughout Raff's creative output and two of his greatest creations, the Symphony No.8 in A op 205 Frühlingsklänge ( Sounds of Spring) and the song collection Sanges Frühling, celebrate the season. Throughout his life, as a true romantic, Raff delighted in nature and the countryside and he certainly shared an almost primeval release of energy at the onset of Spring. In her biography of her father, Helene Raff sheds no more light on why he decided to write a symphony celebrating Spring, and whether it was always his intention for it to be the first in a cycle of four celebrating all the seasons. The fact that the next one he wrote was about Winter and was not published or performed in his lifetime perhaps hints that the A major symphony was written as a stand-alone work, rather than consciously as the first of a series."

"Raff composed the work in Wiesbaden during the Summer and Autumn of 1876 at around the time that he was appointed to head the new Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt and at the end of what appears to have been a period of creative uncertainty and self doubt. It was premiered the following year in Wiesbaden's Kurhaus and was well received - no doubt a relief after the mixed reception of the previous Symphony, In the Alps. The first two movements were particularly well received. The work soon crossed the Atlantic and the conductor of a performance there later in 1877 reported to Raff, "I want only to share with you that I have had the pleasure of introducing your Spring Symphony here (in New York) and with great success".

"In this work, Raff produced three successive movements of surging vitality, demonic excitement and pastoral delicacy which go a long way towards explaining his huge success in his lifetime. The finale is rather more diffuse - although as colourfully orchestrated and structurally sound as its predecessors it is not so melodically memorable; Helene Raff records in her biography that audiences "did not understand" this movement. It is somehow not on quite such a high level of inspiration as the others and, as such, it underscores the reasons for the posthumous decline in Raff's reputation." -

The musical celebrations of spring and of summer are written in an immediately attractive and approachable style, scored for a relatively modest orchestra of classical rather than Wagnerian dimensions. The Eighth Symphony opens by welcoming the returning spring, following this with the dance of Walpurgisnacht, the night of 1st May, when witches are about. The first blooms of spring lead to a romantic movement of Wanderlust, evoked by the season when the young may wander to their hearts' content.

9. Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "In Summer" Op. 208 (1878)
Conducted by Hans Stadlmair with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

I. A Hot Day - Allegro - 00:00
II. The hunt of the Elves - Allegro - 12:18
III. Eklogue - Larghetto - 22:43
IV. To the Harvest Wreath - Allegro - 29:22

"From the outset Raff's Symphony No.9 in E minor Im Sommer (In Summer) op.208 was well received. A critic wrote after the Wiesbaden premiere: "If Raff hadn't already laid the basis for his fame and reputation in his other symphonies, then this work would certainly add much to it". The renowned conductor Benjamin Bilse (1816-1902), who conducted its first Berlin performance on 10 January 1880 declared it a work of genius. He wrote to Raff: "Your symphony has stirred up the entire music world of Berlin and brought my orchestra the greatest pleasure". After the lukewarm receptions of its three predecessors, Raff restored his symphonic reputation with his Summer Symphony."

"This third part of the cycle of four works celebrating the seasons was composed in Frankfurt during the summer and autumn of 1878. It was premiered at Wiesbaden's Kurhaus on 28 May 1879 by the city's orchestra under the baton of Raff's friend Louis Lüstner (1840 - 1918), and received a second airing there only two days later. The piece made a strong impression on one reviewer: "A beautiful and most interesting work. The first movement combines the energetic main theme with the most charming detail in the contrasting sections and the development, for example, where, directly after the exposition (page 19) the tympani softly outlines the main theme while above, three flutes softly play the extended series of chords which introduce the symphony with the effect of a soft breath of wind. The second movement, "The Hunt of the Elves", is of the richest poetry. Orchestration, which is as sensual as it is poetic, envelopes the magical and fanciful atmosphere. No. 3 begins with a quietly maintained idyll, which knows how to wed the language of pastoral majesty to the sounds of charm and gentleness. Directly following this pastoral poem (Ekloge) comes "The Harvest Wreath", which begins with a festive procession or march, and then, with broad development, passes by in a portrait filled with life and joy."

"Raff's friend Hans von Bülow, perhaps the greatest conductor in Germany at the time, judged it to be amongst the finest of his compositions, ranking it alongside the Im Walde and Lenore symphonies. Just as he had with them, Raff grouped Im Sommer's four movements into three parts. The third and fourth movements comprise Part III, but why Raff made this distinction is unclear. Unlike the earlier works, there is no overarching title for the third part and no discernable descriptive or musical link between them. Apart from the second movement, Raff provides no detailed programme for the symphony's movements beyond their titles. The Midsummer Night's Dream scherzo itself does have quite a detailed programme and in many ways is a worthy precursor to the Four Shakespeare Preludes which Raff penned the following year." -

The Ninth Symphony opens in the heat of summer, proceeding in its second movement to an elvish hunting-party. A pastoral eclogue then leads to a final celebration of the harvest.

10. Symphony No. 10 in F Minor Op. 213 "To Autumn Time" (1879)
Conducted by Hans Stadlmair with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

I. Impressions and Feelings - 00:00
II. Ghostly Round-Dance - 9:48
III. Elegie - 15:01
IV. The Hunt of Man - 22:48

The tenth of the symphonies, Zur Herbstzeit (In Autumn), was written in 1879, after Raff's removal to Frankfurt and at a time when he was occupied with a number of larger scale works. Following tradition in its structure, the symphony declares its programme in its general title and in the descriplive titles of the movements. It forms one of a final group of symphonies depicting the four seasons of the year, No. 8, Frühlingsklänge (Sounds of Spring), No. 9, Im Sommer (In Summer), the present work, and his last symphony, No. 11, Der Winter (Winter). The first movement of Symphony No. 10 sets the mood, with its evocalion of a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Phantom drums and double basses introduce the ghostly dance of the second movement, a mysterious waltz dispelled momentarily by a chorale. There follows a sustained elegy for the passing year and a final seasonal hunt, appropiately introduced, but allowing occasional rest from the chase.

11. Symphony No. 11 in A Minor "The Winter" Op. 218 (1876)
Conducted by Hans Stadlmair with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

I. The first snow - Allegro - 00:00
II. Allegretto - 11:27
III. By the fireside - Larghetto - 17:22
IV. Carnival - Allegro - 25:50

"The Symphony No.11 in a op 214 Der Winter (The Winter) is both the last in a series of symphonies describing the four seasons and the last Symphony undertaken by Raff. Although composition commenced in the spring of 1876, the work remained unfinished at the time of Raff's death six years later. The task of completing the work was assumed by his long time friend and associate, the conductor Max Erdmannsdörfer (1848-1905), who published the score in the year after Raff's death. The symphony was premiered in February 1883 in Wiesbaden under the direction of Louis Lüstner."

"It would not be surprising when listening to this symphony if one would be reminded of the characteristics usually associated with Tchaikovsky, Raff's younger contemporary. Some comparison with the Russian's first symphony (op. 13 in g "Winter Dreams") might be made. Although composed some ten years prior to Raff's Winter Symphony, it was not performed until 1886 and it is quite unlikely that Raff had any knowledge of the work. Although not one of Raff's strongest compositions, the work appeared quite frequently on concert programs, in particular in the United States where it was the most performed of the composer's symphonies after the "Forest" and Lenore Symphonies. The Winter Symphony is in the traditional four movements: Allegro (Die erste Schnee/The First Snow ), Allegretto, Larghetto (Am Camin/By the Fireside) and Allegro (Carneval/Carnival)." -

The last of Raff's symphonies, No. 11 in A minor, Der Winter, was left unfinished at the time of his death, and was later prepared for publication by Max Erdmannsdörfer. The symphony is scored for an orchestra of pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons, with four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, triangle and strings. The first movement suggests, in accordance with its programmatic title Der erste Schnee, The First Snow, the cold of winter, the delight that snow can bring, as well as its harsher aspect, with hints at times of Russian temperatures. A folk-song-like melody opens the A major second movement. The storms of winter intervene, only partly dispelled by the first appearance of the trumpets. The F major slow movement is spent, very properly, at the fireside, as the plucked strings accompany a melody played by the bassoon, soon joined by horn, then oboe and clarinet, as the music swells. The last movement Carneval opens in a firm A major, a call to celebration, followed by a contrapuntal start to the movement proper, the double basses answered by cellos, violas and second violins in turn, before the entry of the woodwind and music that, as it unfolds, brings a lively procession of characters in cheerful celebration.