Jul 19, 2011
The musical levees have broken and I am inundated with new CD releases. In these brief reviews, I will also be playing catch-up on some overlooked items of merit. I shall proceed chronologically, which means we begin with my favorite period of music, the Classical era. The CPO label has released a disc featuring four of the symphonies of Carl Stamitz (1745-1801). Carl was the son of Johan Stamitz, the founder of the famous Mannheim school, from which the classical symphony was launched. The four symphonies here, played with verve by Werner Erhardt and L’Arte del Mondo, are adrenaline-driven and delightful. These will provide refreshment on the hottest summer day.
Next in line come the complete String Quartets of Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842), played by the Quartetto Savinio on the Stradivarius label in a two-CD set. Beethoven considered Cherubini to be the best composer of his time, Beethoven excepted. If that might be an exaggeration, I will nonetheless use it to entice you to listen to these six marvelous quartets. They are Classical but with quirks, which make them all the more appealing. Stradivarius is an expensive import label, but these performances are worth it.
Ferdinand Ries (1784-837) was a student of Beethoven. Compared to his teacher, one would have to say that he produced music in the upper echelon of the second rate, which at that time was very good indeed. Two labels in particular, CPO and Naxos, have done an outstanding job in providing a full view of Reis’s music. CPO has recorded all the symphonies, and Naxos has given us all the piano concertos. I heartily recommend both series.
Helping to fill out the picture, CPO has now released a CD of Ries’s overtures. These are fun, dramatic works, ably delivered by conductor Howard Griffiths and the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne (777 609-2). For Naxos, pianist Susan Kagan has completed Vol. 5 in her complete traversal of Reis’s piano sonatas. Ries provided a connection between the late Classical and early Romantic, and he can be heard bridging that divide in these lyrical and dramatic works, so well performed here (8.572300).