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Ferdinand RIES (1784-1838)
Piano Quartet No. 1, Op 13 in f (c.1819?) [23.38]
Piano Quartet No. 2, Op 17 in Eb (c.1819?) [28.10]
Mendelssohn Trio Berlin: Stephen Picard, violin; Ramon Jaffé, ’cello; Andreas Frölich, Steinway D piano; Daniel Raiskin, viola
Recorded Immanuelkirche, Köln-Rondorf, Germany, 14 March 2002
Notes in Deutsch, English, Français.
Performers’ photos and biographies.
CPO 999 885-2 [51.51]


The music here is quite listenable; at times urgently compelling, at other times more quietly charming, more melodic and graceful in style than similar works by Beethoven (anybody’s would be) and a little less glib than those by Mendelssohn (again, almost anybody’s would be) perhaps sounding like very, very late Mozart, say about 1798. The performers are thoroughly committed. It is difficult to imagine the music being performed any better than this.

The jewelbox erroneously lists Ries’ death year as ‘1873.’ Especially when we are being presented with unfamiliar music, it must be pointed out that there is room on this disk for a third piano quartet or other similar work. A good choice would have been Ries’ Piano Quartet #3, Op 129.

Ries was born 18 November 1784 in Bonn. His father Franz Anton Ries had been Beethoven’s violin teacher in Bonn. Ferdinand studied piano with Beethoven from 1802 to 1805, studied cello with Romberg, and composition with Albrechtsburger. When Ries was ready to look for a job, Beethoven helped him with recommendations. J. P. Salomon had been a teacher of the elder Ries, and Salomon invited Ferdinand to London in 1813. Ries performed his own works there as well as Beethoven’s with the Philharmonic Society, thereby increasing the popularity of Beethoven in England. In 1814 he married an English woman then retired to Germany. Ferdinand died in 1838.

CPO’s recording of Ries’ Symphonies 7 & 8 was well reviewed by me on MusicWeb. But these trios are finer music, and more original than the symphonies. If there was more justice in the musical world they’d be heard much more often.

Paul Shoemaker


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