Octet for Strings in C Major Op. 176 (1872)
Octet for Strings in E Flat Major Op. 20 (1825)
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Ensemble
Chandos CHAN8790 55:26
Raff was neglected for much of the twentieth century, but in the last few years there has been a rediscovery of his many works. The Raff Octet was obviously influenced greatly by the Mendelssohn Octet, so it is a very natural pairing of works on this disc. Raff employs fine melodies and exciting inner part writing – extensions of Mendelssohn's chamber music style, especially Raff's use of the light rapid musical filigree that Mendelssohn employs in the scherzo of his Octet. The second movement of the Raff is a good example of the combination of the rapid skittering paired with a fluid melody line that arrives and departs. Julian Haylock, in the liner notes, calls Raff's third movement "a 'Song Without Words' in all but name".
Both works are beautifully written and beautifully performed. A must-see website for those interested in learning more about Raff: http://www.raff.org/