Ferdinand Ries Quartets Build on Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven only accepted two composition students: Ferdinand Ries, and Carl Czerny. Ries worked closely with Beethoven during his tenure.

Ries served as personal assistant and music copyist. Both those roles — plus his lessons — gave him a thorough grounding as a composer.

And a thorough grounding in Beethoven’s style. Ries soon established himself as a composer/pianist, like his mentor. And he explored many of the same genres as his friend and teacher.

This release presents one of Rie’s string quartets from the early 1820s. The Quartet in A minor was the first of three published as his Op. 150. Ries’ use of motivic development shows Beethoven’s influence. But his melodies are more fully formed and have a hint of Schubertian lyricism.

Also included is the String Quintet in C major, Op. 37. Ries composed this in 1809. Five years before, Beethoven wrote his String Quintet, Op. 29. Both works are in the key of C major, and both add a second viola to the quartet lineup.

The influence of Beethoven is quite strong in Ries’ quintet. But it’s no mere copy or pastische. Ries structures his movements differently, and for different effects. It’s a well-crafted work and one that should be played more often.

The Schuppanzigh Quartett performs with an intensity that strengthens the Beethoven similarities. Yet they also deliver Ries’ melodies with sweetness and delicacy (especially in the slow movements).

A contemporary music critic called Ries a “worthy representative of chamber music.“ Indeed so.

Ferdinand Ries: String Quartets Vol. 4
Schuppanzigh Quartett
Raquel Massades, viola

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