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Ferdinand Ries

String quartets (Vol 2) G-Dur op. 70/2 & f-Moll WoO 48


cpo 777 227-2 [60 Mins]

This appears to be a worth-while 'rennaisance' of a Beethoven-pupil composer whose name is better known than his music. See David Wright "I adore the music of Ferdinand Ries".

Thes two quartets are inventive and individual, even though their musical language will sound familiar. I was brought up to think that not much else was happeningof note around Mozart and Haydn, and Beethoven, a terrible example of the harm done by establishing a 'canon' of masterpieces.

Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) wrote some twenty five quartets and these two leave one eager to hear some more of them, and to have them brought back into circulation in string quartet recitals.

The first (1816) introduces teasing treatment of sonata form conventions, raising expectations and "disappointing" them. WoO 48 from c 1835 is formally more complex and thoroughly engaging. This is all covered in the voluminous analytic notes of Bert Hagels and translated (without anyone bothering to proof-read) by "ar:pege-translations (Brussels)".

They are printed in such miniscule type, and almost without paragraphing, as to daunt older readers; and there are non-sequiturs; e.g. Ries left London in 1824 without our having known that he had got there...

If the notes had been linked to track timings, they'd have been really useful; perhaps CPO might want to recitify all that on their website?

The performances sound dedicated and fully satisfactory, though on one of my players the cello boomed somewhat. It will be interesting to discover how this ongoing series compares with that devoted to the string quartets of Ries' contemporary Antonin Reicha (or Rejcha) (1770 – 1836) which are being recorded by London's Kreutzer String Quartet (see our review of his flute sonatas).

Peter Grahame Woolf