Ries: Sonatas for Violin & Fortepiano

Ariadne Daskalakis violin, Wolfgang Brunner fortepiano
61:34
cpo 777 676-2
opp. 8/1, 16/2 & 71

Recently I reviewed Ariadne Daskalakis’s performances of violin concertos by Kalliwoda, also on cpo, which impressed me hugely, especially the differing colours she is able to extract from her instrument. The same is true of the present set in which, in the company of brilliant accompanist Wolfgang Brunner, she mines another rich vein of repertoire, this time some violin sonatas by Beethoven’s friend and pupil, Ferdinand Ries.

Although they span less than eight years, the three chosen works show how Ries’s musical language changed; the op. 71 sonata in C sharp minor (his last, written in St Petersburg during a concert tour he undertook in the north of Europe around 1812) is (as the key choice might suggest) a dark, brooding work, while the other two are lighter in character, with more of the dance about them. That is not to say that they are slight – a criticism too often (and, in my opinion, most unfairly) levelled at the composer; the facility with which Ries moves from one key centre to another is frequently surprising! Daskalakis and Brunner are perfect partners, never vying for the limelight, always listening to one another. This is just the latest in a stream of Ries recordings from cpo and I certainly hope they continue to explore his output.

Brian Clark