Trio for Clarinet or Violin, Cello & Piano in B flat Major, Op.28
Today, Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) is primarily remembered as a friend and student of Beethoven, as well as his first biographer. However, during his lifetime and for much of the 19 century Ries was remembered as a fine composer and virtuoso pianist. He showed musical promise from an early age, studying both violin and piano with his father, and the cello with Bernhard Romberg. In 1801, he went to Vienna to study with Beethoven. He studied piano and composition with him for nearly 5 years. Thereafter Ries concertized throughout Europe for a number of years before settling in London before finally retiring in Frankfurt. He wrote a considerable amount of music including several piano concertos and a large quantity of chamber music which was many years often performed and well thought of.
His Clarinet Trio appears to have been written sometime between 1805 and 1808. It is in four movements and not surprisingly shows the clear influence of Beethoven. The opening Allegro is lively and tuneful and calls to mind the style of Beethoven's Op.11 trio. The energetic second movement, Scherzo, allegro vivace, is in the transitional style of a quick minuet. A sleepy trio section provides a fine contrast. In the slow movement, Adagio, the piano is given a long solo introduction to introduce the main theme, which is then restated by the cello (our sound-bite begins here). There is much beautiful ornamentation which leads to the clarinet further elaborating the main theme. The finale, Rondo, allegro ma non troppo, has for its main theme a catchy, upbeat melody.
Originally written for clarinet, cello and piano, to increase sales, Ries' publisher insisted he provide them with a violin part in lieu of the clarinet. This he did and we offer both. Written in the style of early Beethoven, here is a welcome addition to the late-classical, early romantic era clarinet trio repertoire. Fun to play and good to listen to, we recommend it to both amateurs and professionals alike.