Ferdinand Ries String Quartets Vol. 4 Worth the Wait

It’s been four years since the Schuppanzigh Quartet recorded volume three in series. And 18 years since they started it. This time they present a quartet and a quintet by Ferdinand Ries. It’s a good combination.

Ferdinand Ries was one of only two pupils Ludwig van Beethoven accepted. Ries studied piano with Beethoven, and eventually became his copyist, and personal assistant. His time with the master was well-spent. And it greatly influenced his own compositional style.

The Op. 37 String Quintet in C major was composed in 1809. Ries dedicated it to violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh (the quartet’s namesake), who premiered it.

The work is finely constructed. Ries seems to have learned motivic development from Beethoven. And many of the gestures may seem familiar. Familiar, but not derivative. Ries is more concerned about the beauty of expression than challenging the heavens. The work unfolds in a logical and engaging fashion.

The String Quartet, Op. 150, No. 1 in A minor was part of group Ries composed around 1826. Ries’ compositional language was similar to Beethoven’s. But in this quartet, he seemed to draw inspiration from Haydn. The music has a light texture, and the lines seemed longer and more drawn out.

The Schuppanzigh Quartet turns in some fine performances. The ensemble has a warm, rich sound that’s in line with Rie’s music. This is a good addition to this ongoing series. Let’s hope volume five is less than four years away!

Ferdinand Ries: String Quartets, Vol. 4
String Quintet, Op. 37 in C major; String Quartet, Op. 150, No. 1 in A minor
Schuppanzigh Quartet Cologne; Raquel Massades, viola
CPO 777 306-2

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