Ferdinand RIES (1784-1838) String Quartets - Volume 2
String Quartet No. 2 in G, Op. 70, No. 2. (1812) [26:29]
String Quartet No. 20 in f minor, WoO 48 (ca. 1837) [33:39]
Quartett (Anton Steck (violin); Christoph Mayer (violin); Christian
Goosses (viola); Antje Geusen, (cello))
rec. German Radio Chamber Music Hall, 13-16 April 2005. CPO 777227-2 [60:13]
was a student of Beethoven and a prolific composer, respected
during his lifetime if not lastingly famous. The string quartet
was amongst his favorite genres, as he took up the form some
twenty-five times in his career, although a significant number
of these compositions remained unpublished. In this recording
we have two fine examples, bookends of his compositional career.
The G major quartet
is well crafted and makes for pleasant enough listening, rather
a diluted Mendelssohn, without the latter composer’s gift for
melody and rich harmonies. The Schuppanzigh deliver a well
turned performance, with a warm rich tone, tight ensemble and
spot on intonation.
The prize here
is the latter work, of such a high quality that one wonders
why the composer never had it published. It is on a par with
the quartets of Schubert, and is in fact, somewhat better constructed
given Schubert’s tendency to go overboard with longer forms.
The substantial opening movement shifts deftly between darkness
and light, opening with a rather brooding minor subject and
flowing into some rollicking major mode tunefulness. Its triple
meter slow movement is an elegant three part form, starting
with a lovely Mozartean melody, shifting into a somewhat turbulent
b-section, and then rounding off nicely with a modified return
of the first material. A brief but tasty minor key minuet follows,
and concludes with a rollicking finale. This is a work of considerable
depth, yet it never takes itself so seriously as to lose its
sunny air, this in spite of the minor key center.
are typical of CPO’s high standards, but I do wish they would
tighten up their program notes. German scholarly writing has
always tended toward the wordy and obtuse anyway, and reading
these lengthy, blow-by-blow descriptions of the music in English
becomes deadly dull. I often find this label’s program booklets
a dreaded chore to wade through.
have produced other fine recordings for CPO and this one is
certainly no exception. They play with a fine sense of lyricism
and panache. If you love string quartets as much as I do, you
will want to add this disc to your collection, and since this
is labeled as Volume two, it will most likely be worthwhile
to investigate the first disc in the series as well, which
Patrick Waller has reviewed.
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