Piano Concerto #7, Op. 132/Ferdinand Ries

April 15, 2009

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The 2009 Penguin Guide had a total of 0 recordings in their perfect guide to building your classical collection. It only took me about 10 minutes into this new Naxos recording to come to the decision that they were wrong in their assessment, at least in the case of this recording and at the very least for offering nothing from this talented recorder.Ferdinand Ries was a student, secretary, and copyist for Beethoven during the years of 1803-1805. He made his debut as a pianist in 1804 performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #3 in C Minor, Op. 37 with his own cadenza, to good reviews. He left Vienna in 1805 to avoid the draft but stayed in touch with Ludwig over the years, aiding him with getting some of his publications in London performed and published, including the 9th Symphony in 1822.

My first listen gave me the impression that the 7th Concerto, composed in 1823, wasn’t written in the first part of the 19th Century but somewhat later on, perhaps as much as 25 years later. While not as technical or romantic as I’ve heard, the 1st movement, an allegro con moto is lyrical and stylish enough for me to have stopped what I was doing and just listen. The opening/ prelude statement, showing the Beethoven influence, is 3+ minutes and introduces quite nicely the piano, which offers another theme showing off the skill of the soloist, Hinterhuber in this case. The larghetto is a pretty one, reminding one of romantic times in a delicate fashion. If one were beginning to nod off with the somewhat tranquil nature of the second movement the allegro will certainly open those sleepy eyes in the third and final movement. Quite vivacious it certainly shows the skill of the soloist. While Grand Variations on ‘Rule Britannia’, Op. 116 is not my cup of tea it is a pleasant listening experience for the person who finds this majestic theme one they find enjoyable. Perhaps not being British might have something to do with my opinion. The concluding work, Introduction ET Variations Brillantes, Op. 170, is based on the song “Soldier, soldier will you marry me?” and offers a nice balance between orchestra and the piano solo sections. It is a nice theme that is nicely developed and allows the technical ability of the soloist to come to the forefront.

This is an excellent way to be introduced to the work of Ries and if one is interested there are 4 more offerings of his piano works performed by Susan Kagan and Christopher Hinterhuber on the Naxos label.

Track Listing and Times:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 132 (34:59)
1… Grave-Allegro con moto
2… Larghetto
3… Allegro
4…Grand Variations on ‘Rule Britannia’, Op. 116 (15:58)
5…Introduction ET Variations Brillantes, Op. 170 (14:35)
Total Time is 66:02

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