Hans Stadlmair

Joseph Joachim Raff: Symphony No. 7 "In Den Alpen"; Chaconne; Abends

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While there is no denying that Joseph Joachim Raff was always a mediocre composer, there is likewise no disputing that, over time and through much hard work, he became a better mediocre composer. As awful and ungainly as his First Symphony of 1861 was, his Seventh Symphony of 1875 is indubitably less awful and ungainly. Part of the reason is that the tunes are better. In his First Symphony, Raff wrote melodies so instantly forgettable that the listener forgot them while they were playing and structures so rambling that the listener lost interest in the music long before it ended. But, by the time he had reached his Seventh Symphony 14 years later, Raff was capable of writing tunes which, while still forgettable, were at least innocuous enough while they are playing and a structure which, while still rambling, at least knew where it was going even if it does take forever to get there. For listeners bored with Brahms, Raff's Seventh, while not actually interesting, will prove mildly distracting. As for the fillers, Raff's orchestration of Bach's "Chaconne" from the D minor Violin Partita is capably executed, while his Abends Rhapsodie is pleasantly ignorable. Hans Stadlmair is, as before, a faithful if unexciting executor of Raff's music and the Bamberger Symphoniker play with the conviction of musicians who know that if they get through the first take without a serious slip, they'll get to go home early. Tudor's sound is warm but a bit pasty, big but a bit lumpy, loud but a bit bumpy.

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