Friday, April 15, 2011

Ries, Beethovens secretary

Here we have a very obscure early 19th century composer, who has been brought into the spotlight recently thanks to a series of CDs issued on Naxos and CPO: the German composer Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838). He was destined to become just a footnote in music history, his main claim to fame being that he was Beethovens secretary and pupil. His own music, on the crossover of classical and romantic, is a revelation: well crafted, melodious, and effective - certainly at a similar level as say Louis Spohr and Carl Maria von Weber. Especially his works for piano and orchestra, including nine concertos and various other concertante works, stand out as great compositions. As an example I have picked a CD with one of his best piano concertos (the 7th) coupled with an intriguing set of variations on Rule Britannia and the Introduction et Variations Brillantes. Excellent playing by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra under Uwe Gridd, with Christopher Hinterluber as the soloist. A must for lovers of this genre.