ROBIN DE RAAFF (b.1968): Symphony No. 1 “Tanglewood Tales” (Orchestre de Picardie, Doelen Ensemble; Arie van Beek), Symphony No. 2 for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra “Two worlds colliding” (Radio Chamber Philharmonic, Raschèr Saxophone Quartet; Emilio Pomárico), Symphony No. 4 for Soprano and Orchestra “Melodies unheard” (Sophia Burgos [soprano], Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra; Antonello Manacorda).
Catalogue Number: 07U070
Label: Challenge Classics
Description: De Raaff is a relative newcomer to the symphonic genre, which he has embraced wholeheartedly in the past decade. These three works are all expanded elaborations of one sort or another of pre-existing works, and all share the extravagant and enthusiastic use of large, sonorous orchestral forces that we noted in our previous offering (05S008). The First Symphony, like the Third, was conceived orchestrally, but was originally two separate works; Entangled Tales and Untangled Tales, written four years later. Both were inspired by Tanglewood, where the composer was Senior Composition Fellow in 2000, and deal with the bringing together of disparate elements or their dispersal - musicians, audience members - into monumental blocks of cohesive co-operation. This suggests the processes in the work, if not an explicit program. The Second Symphony was originally a concerto for saxophone quartet and orchestra. Energy, especially cumulative energy over time, is a common feature of De Raaff's work, and this piece is no exception, beginning with the 'two worlds' of the title interacting like cosmic forces, drawn ever closer until their 'collision' gives rise to a tremendous outburst of newly formed incandescent matter. De Raaff's distinctive orchestration is frequently anchored by richly sonorous bass tones, and so is his composite soloist here, giving rise to some monumental floes of instrumental texture. The Fouth was originally a song-cycle with piano, but in orchestral form it joins such symphonic song cycles as Das Lied von der Erde and Shostakovich 14. The texts are presented in rich settings, with orchestral interludes; perhaps because of the imagery of the verse or perhaps as part of an ongoing trend in the composer's output, this work feels more conventionally structured and with a clearer sense of tonal progression than the previous symphonies.