Raff: Piano Four-hands Sonatas
Format: COMPACT DISC
Wikman, Bertil; Wikman, Solveig
It was common practice in the nineteenth century for major orchestral and chamber works to be made available in piano four-hand reductions, as concert and recital-going was still a novelty and many middle-class homes had a piano, and these editions made such large works accessible to a much wider piano-playing public. What was less common was that Raff prepared his own piano four-hand arrangements, as often this time-consuming task was farmed out by composers and publishers to separate arrangers. However, Raff was also a skilled arranger himself. In addition to the original works mentioned above, he wrote a further eight works for piano four-hands which were either early pieces based on the melodies of other composers or more straightforward arrangements and transcriptions of the works of others, made at the request of publishers. The Piano Four-Hands Sonata in E minor Op. 73b was arranged from the Violin Sonata No. 1, probably early in 1854 shortly after Raff finished work on the Sonata itself, but was not published by Schuberth until 1867, eight years after the original work, which had become the most successful of his five violin sonatas. The second work in the series, the Piano Four-Hands Sonata in A major Op. 90b, is an arrangement of the String Quartet No. 2, and was probably made immediately after Raff finished the Quartet in May 1857. The Quartet was published in 1862, but the Sonata remained in manuscript during Raff’s lifetime although it appears that as late as August 1881 Schuberth was preparing to publish it, as the company acknowledged receipt of Raff’s corrections of the proof. Publication never took place however, possibly because his death in June the next year intervened, and so it was not until the composer’s bicentenary year that Edition Nordstern published a first edition in 2022.