Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Todd Gorman
American Record Guide, January 2011

Grodd and Napoli give performances that I don’t imagine will be surpassed. The two instruments are balanced well on this recording, with a beautiful sound coming from both players. Notes in English and German give plenty of relevant background…

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Lance G. Hill
The Classical Music Guide Forums, September 2010

First of all, if it wasn't for Naxos, I doubt very seriously if we would have such fine recordings of music worthy of resurrecting. So, first-off, thank you to Naxos! As the back inlay statement relates: “Like most of his contemporaries, Ferdinand Ries [1784-1838] was a prolific composer of variations, polonaises and other small-scale works for piano or piano and solo instrument. Intended primarily for the cultivated amateur, these works were composed with the care one would expect from a former pupil of Beethoven and abound in attractive melodic ideas [and lines] and brilliant instrumental writing. [Ries's] works for flute and piano include sparkling gems such as the Variations on a Portuguese Hymn, Op. 152/1 (Adeste fideles) and the impressive Sonate sentimentale, Op. 169, one of the finest works for flute of its time.”

Recorded at the Potton Hall, Suffolk, UK in May 2008—which seems to have outstanding acoustics for nearly every recording I've heard from this venue regardless of the label—we have flutist Uwe Grodd and pianist Matteo Napoli who bring some outstanding music—and virtuosity in both instruments—to the fore. Together, Grodd and Napoli are a most complementary duo who obviously love playing this music, all of which is most joyful. Ries must have been a happy man and composer. Grodd, many of us know as a fine conductor who also plays a flute. Matteo Napoli is a superb pianist who has a wonderful and natural ability to breathe with Grodd to give the already fine music another edge of perfection and beauty being brought to the listener. I always believe that behind every great instrumentalist or singer is a pianist—a co-partner—who makes all the difference. Gerald Moore taught us well, and Matteo Napoli uses his pianistic gifts to full flower. Frankly, I hated to see this recording come to a conclusion.

In the first movement on the Sonate sentimentale, the piano is plagued with one out-of-tune note which, apparently, doesn't seem to show up in the rest of this recording. While balances are very good, I noted some distortion in the Variations on a Portuguese Hymn in one or two places (too much gain). The most interesting work to my own ears is the Sonata for Flute and Piano in G Major, Op. 87, which is imbued with superlative musical ideas that makes one wonder why none of this music seems to be heard in recitals or even on records.

Highly recommended!, September 2010

Uwe Grodd and Matteo Napoli do seem to enjoy the music of Ferdinand Ries...The piano is more the focus here than the flute—Ries was a famous piano virtuoso—but the flute writing is pleasant and idiomatic, if not especially challenging: most of these pieces were intended for performance by adept amateurs, not professionals, and the Introduction and Polonaise would certainly have given an amateur flautist a workout while providing a pleasant 10 minutes of listening in a 19th-century drawing room. The most substantial work on the CD is the Sonate sentimentale, a well-constructed and nicely balanced work that makes no pretense to profundity but that has some heft to it. The other sonata here is shorter and lighter—its central slow movement lasts only a minute and a half—but concludes with a very finely honed set of variations. The Variations on a Portuguese Hymn are very well constructed, too, and are especially interesting to hear because the hymn that Ries uses is Adeste fidelis (“Oh come, all ye faithful”). Hearing this usually solemn tune, so ubiquitous at Christmas, turned every which way—including, at the end, into a bright and bouncy version—is a very enjoyable listening experience, as indeed is the entire disc.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2010

Born in Germany in 1784, Ferdinand Ries’s move to London in 1813 changed his life, the dearth of quality musicians that worked there placing him as England’s finest pianist-composer of his time. He was in such demand that he quickly built a personal fortune, and at the age of 40 he retired, returning to his native Rhineland together with his English wife. A highly commercial composer, he wrote a substantial output intended for sale as sheet music for the gifted amateur. The booklet with the disc is quite candid in saying ‘they may not represent the best of Ries’s works but they serve to illustrate the consummate professionalism he brought to everything he wrote’. They came from a period where elaborate decoration was in vogue, the Variations on a Portuguese Hymn—which turns out to be Adeste fideles (Oh come all ye faithful)—being a typical example. The Sonate sentimental and G major Sonata are more substantial in stature, with dramatic moments that seek to please. That he was a pianist is always evident, as the finest and most demanding writing is for the keyboard, and nowhere more so than in the Introduction and Polonaise. Uwe Grood, the New Zealand-based flautist, is in fine form, with his Italian partner, the much experienced Matteo Napoli, making light of the many demands. Much enjoyed as it drifted past me, the UK made recording is of very good quality.

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group