Piano Trio No.1 in c minor, Op.102
"Raff's first piano trio, which appeared in 1864, was very popular for quite a long time. It is unjust that today it has been forgotten. It deserves a place of honor in the concert repertoire and can be warmly recommended to amateurs as well. The first movement, Rasch, is passionate but also of deep feeling. The working out is especially fine. A Scherzo which begins with a fugue comes next. The main theme is a nimble melody while the second subject is more lyrical. The third movement, Mäßig langsam, is perhaps the highpoint of the trio. It belongs to those magnificent compositions which are of great inspiration. The music is exudes a lovely sense of calm peacefulness border on bliss. The tonalities are particularly beautiful. The main theme of the finale, Rasch bewegt, is very striking and full of passion, while the lyrical second theme provides excellent contrast and is especially appealing.
---This was the opinion of the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, writing his Handbook for Piano Trio Players.
It seems virtually unimaginable that a composer whose talent was recognized and whose music was admired by Mendelssohn and Liszt, could become a mere footnote, yet this is what became of Raff and his music for most of the 20th century. Only now is he being rediscovered to the delight of those fortunate enough to hear his music. From 1860 to 1900 the name of Joachim Raff (1822-1882) was regularly mentioned in the same breath as Wagner, Liszt, and Brahms as one of Germany's leading composers. All of the critical commentaries which appeared during those years spoke of him as an equal to such masters as Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. Incredibly, by the 1920's his music had all but disappeared from the concert stage.
For several years, Raff lived on the verge of starvation and was forced to crank out compositions for the commercial market (works that would sell but were of little intrinsic or artistic merit), one after another as fast as he could. Sadly, this was later to tarnish his legacy. After his reputation had faded, he was regarded merely as a composer of parlor pieces, despite the magnificent symphonic and chamber works he left behind. Anyone who has had the time to hear these great works quickly realizes that Raff could be an impeccable craftsman when he had the luxury of time and was not forced to write for the home music-making marketplace.
This trio has either been out of print or extremely hard to obtain for more than a century. We have reprinted the original edition but have added rehearsal numbers. The music speaks for itself and needs no further accolade from us.