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Ferdinand Ries: Piano Trio and Sextets

Ferdinand Ries: Piano Trio and Sextets—Nash Ensemble (Hyperion 68380)

Whether you realize it or not, Ferdinand Ries is a person to whom you owe a world of debt.  He was a pupil, friend, and secretary of Ludwig van Beethoven, spending the years 1801 to 1809 helping the great composer deal with publishers, find lodgings, in short, looking after Beethoven as his hearing declined. Ries settled in London in 1813, and as a member of the Philharmonic Society, became a tireless promoter of Beethoven’s music.  If not for Ries, the Society’s commission in 1817 for a new symphony might not have happened and Beethoven’s Choral Symphony might never had been written!  Ries himself wrote over 300 works, including symphonies, concertos, operas and chamber music.  Of the fours works collected on this new disc, the Piano Trio in C minor sounds most like the music of Ries’s famous mentor.  But the real delight on the program is the Sextet Op 142 scored for piano and harp with clarinet, horn, bassoon and double bass.  The three companion pieces are no less attractive, showcasing the individual and collective strengths of the Nash Ensemble as well as the merits of a lesser-known composer and his music.