If Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) is remembered at all today it is probably due to his early biography of Beethoven (written with F. G. Wegeler) who had been his piano teacher. (He did not study composition with Beethoven, who sent him to Albrechtsberger for that purpose. However, he acted as Beethoven's copyist for several years and undoubtedly learned a lot from that.) He was a virtuoso pianist and skilled composer, writing much for the piano, as well as in other genres. He wrote eight piano concertos; the two here were composed about twenty years apart. The later of the two, the A Flat Concerto, Op. 151, written in 1826, occurs first on the CD. It sounds like a cross between Hummel and Mendelssohn in the outer movements. The Larghetto, though, has melodies very much like those written at about that same time by Bellini (and they anticipate those of Chopin in their florid songfulness). The concerto has a subtitle, 'Gruss an den Rhein,' in honor of the area of Germany where Ries had grown up and to which he had just returned from a sojourn in England. The piano writing in this concerto is very virtuosic and is handled with aplomb and musicianly skill by the young Austrian pianist, Christopher Hinterhuber. The earlier Concerto in C Major, Op. 123 was written in 1806. It has more of the Hummelesque than the later concerto and although it is expertly done there is a fair amount of note-spinning and occasionally less than expert filling-in of accompanimental voices. Still, it has exciting and memorable outer movements notable for their bustling energy. The Larghetto is my favorite movement of all on this CD, largely because it reminds me a good deal of the middle movement of Mozart's D Minor Concerto, K. 488. Its main melody is classically lovely; we haven't yet come to the florid Bellini-like melody of the later concerto. Hinterhuber is a marvelous technician in these difficult concertos and what's more he plays with musicianly proportion and phrasing. He is given excellent support by the fine New Zealand Symphony Orchestra under conductor Uwe Grodd. Sound is crystal clear, warm and life-like. There have been some other recordings of music by Ries that have appeared in the last few years, including a complete survey of his valuable symphonies on cpo and a disc of chamber music on Naxos. TT=60:57 Scott Morrison
I bought Vol 5 in a shop sale because he was a new composer to me. I have bought vols 1-4 since from Amazon. Critics often say that Ries is no Beethoven, his teacher. Why should he be? His is a distinctive, often surprising style which offers many pleasures including a strong gift for melody. I'm glad to have come across this early nineteenth century composer in this excellently recorded and sensibly priced Naxos series. Hinterhuber, piano, plays with conviction. Recommended.
After discovering and enjoying Beethoven's Piano Concertos, a friend suggested I listen to those of Ferdinand Ries. I was not disappointed. Although the influence from Beethoven, and to some extent Mozart, is clear, these two concertos offer something slightly unique to the genre. The performance from the NZSO and the soloist is very good, as is the recording quality. I would recommend this CD to anyone who enjoys early romantic concerti, but would advise that listeners acquaint themselves with those of Beethoven first. .
I have bought all the Naxos recordings of the piano concerti of Ferdinand Ries and they have given me great pleasure and real enjoyment. They are "like" Beethoven and yet they stand totally on their own. The Cds are of different orchestras with the same pianist and are all well recorded - the sound is excellent ! if you don't know this composer then give him a whirl and see what you have been missing !.