Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
2:15 AM 23rd July 2022

Classical Music: Ferdinand Ries: Piano Trio and Sextets

Ferdinand Ries: Piano Trio and Sextets

Grand Sextet In C major Op 100; Introduction and A Russian dance Op 113 No 1; Piano Trio in C minor Op 143; Sextet in G minor

Nash Ensemble
Stephanie Gonley (violin), Jonathan Stone, (violin), Lawrence Power (viola), Adrian Brendel (cello), Benjamin Frith (piano), Hugh Webb (harp) Graham Mitchell (double bass), Ursula Leveaux (bassoon), Richard Horsford (clarinet), Richard Watkins (horn)

Hyperion CDA68380

Available as an MP3, iTunes, CD or FLAC and ALAC formats

Ries has a good pedigree. Not only did he study with Beethoven, he was his amanuensis and his de facto agent. According to Joseph Fort, we owe the existence of Beethoven’s ninth symphony to Ries, as it was he who secured this commission on behalf of the Philharmonic Society of London. His contemporaries also had a high level of esteem for him as a composer and a pianist.

In presenting this imaginative programme, the Nash Ensemble has chosen repertoire that shows some of Ries' distinct compositional characteristics.

Beginning with the energetic Grand Sextet (piano, two violins, viola, cello, and double bass) the Nash Ensemble give an exciting performance. One can hear Beethoven’s influence perhaps because of the concerto-like scoring for the piano. After the opening chord, Simon Crawford-Phillips has fun with his virtuosic playing that is witty and communicative. There is a wonderfully expressed and rhythmic dialogue with his colleagues all of whom add something special to the performance. The second movement after a lugubrious introduction takes its theme from the Irish ballad The last rose of summer, here the interplay between the strings and piano is strikingly beautiful. The Sextet ends with a radiant adagio-andante where Crawford-Phillips and colleagues take us to a spirited conclusion.

Alfred Brendel’s son, cellist Adrian Brendel, delights with a short piece Introduction and a Russian Dance, gorgeous music with the cello’s resonance complementing the delightful and delicate accompaniment this time from Benjamin Frith on piano.

From the outset the Piano Trio in C minor sets off at a pace with some fine writing. Crawford-Phillips and Brendel are joined by Stephanie Gonley on violin demonstrating chemistry as they interact with each other.

The final piece is Ries’ Sextet in G minor scored for piano, harp, clarinet, bassoon, horn, and double bass, which at first seems odd. It is an interesting combination that works well, each of the musicians adding something special with their individual palettes of instrumental colour. Ries cleverly introduces the different parts all of which flow effortlessly along. He really understands how to bring these instruments together allowing each to share the limelight.

If you are unfamiliar with Ferdinand Ries then this disc is a good introduction and will not disappoint.

Quite a discovery.