Beethoven’s muse inhabits the music of Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838). The four pieces here reveal Ries as a composer worth following. The C major Grand Sextet (with an equally grand Opus number, 100), for piano and strings, including a double bass, is a splendid work, energetic, lyrical, and with a hauntingly lovely slow movement. Simon Crawford-Phillips sparkles at the keyboard, and is sensitive when required, and Graham Mitchell’s bass is faithfully captured by Oscar Torres’s microphones.
Introduction and a Russian dance (cello & piano; Adrian Brendel & Benjamin Frith) is a charming discovery, whereas the Piano Trio (Opus 143) is of C minor emotionalism—the Finale being a driven Prestissimo—with the central Adagio revealing deep expression. There remains another Sextet (G minor, Opus 142), colourfully/unusually scored for piano and bass, with harp, clarinet, bassoon and horn, which may be heard as anticipating Brahms as far as the woodwind-writing is concerned. It’s gentle music, pastoral, with a Schubertian ditty-like Finale that is an amiable pay-off, a Sunday-morning stroll in the park with a sprint in the closing bars.
This Andrew Keener-produced release is also high-end in terms of annotation and presentation.