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Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, September 2015

Fortunately, Susan Kagan…is an excellent pianist, and one who is wholly sympathetic to Ries’s music. Her playing is a model of clarity, imagination, and taste. Eric Grossman…is well matched with both Kagan and Ries’s sonatas. …he brings welcome fire and temperament to these sonatas, as well as a warm, vibrant tone. There’s not a trace of dullness in his musicianship. Unreservedly recommended! © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, July 2015

Grossman and Kagan surely put their all into these scores, rendering them with strong playing and beautifully tailored readings. © 2015 Fanfare

Colin Clarke
Fanfare, July 2015

Magnificent performances, well recorded, of rewarding music. Recommended. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Joseph Magil
American Record Guide, July 2015

These are fine works by a very skilled composer who is only a notch below his exemplars. Eric Grossman and Susan Kagan play this music very well and are well recorded. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Ralph Graves
WTJU, April 2015

Ries may not be on par with Beethoven, but his music is well-constructed and inventive. I found it both pleasing and enjoyable to listen to. © 2015 WTJU Read complete review

Philip R. Buttall
MusicWeb International, April 2015

…you will surely not be disappointed. The playing, positioning and recording are first-rate, and the three pieces recorded are charming, entertaining and with a good feel for motivic development. Whether they form part of a more extended investigation into the composer’s repertoire for violin and piano, or remain just a one-off sampler…they are simply too good to miss. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Joseph Newsome
Voix des Arts, February 2015

RIES, F.: Violin Sonatas, Op. 8, Nos. 1-2 and Op. 19 (Grossman, S. Kagan) 8.573193
STANFORD, C.V.: Piano Trio No.2 / Piano Quartet No.1 (Gould Piano Trio, Adams) 8.573388
LILBURN, D.: String Quartet in E Minor / Phantasy / Canzonettas / Duos / String Trio (New Zealand String Quartet) 8.573079

With three superb discs featuring chamber music by Ferdinand Ries, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, and Douglas Lilburn, the indefatigably insightful Naxos label directs listeners’ attention into unfamiliar but richly rewarding niches of chamber music repertory. Spanning nearly a century and a half of musical evolution, these discs explore both the ways in which the sentimental immediacy of chamber music has consistently inspired composers and the infinitely diverse textures they have coaxed from combinations of finite groups of instruments.

Stylistically, the chamber works of Ferdinand Ries, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, and Douglas Lilburn are worlds apart, but these three exemplary Naxos recordings again remind listeners that music has the peculiar ability to unite composers, musicians, and audiences of all eras and generations. Ries could not surpass his teacher, Stanford was upstaged by his students, and Lilburn has not yet managed to completely overcome nationalistically-motivated skepticism, but the performances on these discs make no excuses for the trio of forsaken composers and their music: every artist involved, both musical and technical, approaches these works merely as well-crafted music that deserves to be heard. Indeed, these are discs that deserve to be heard often. © 2015 Voix des Arts Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2015

Born in Germany in 1784, and a favourite pupil of Beethoven, Ferdinand Ries composed a wide-ranging catalogue of works that included eighteen violin sonatas. They were completed before he arrived in London in 1813, and it was only at that point he secured his financial future, the country having a dearth of outstanding musicians that he was readily adopted him as the nation’s finest pianist-composer of his time. A consummate craftsman, and a disciple of his mentor, Ries was happy to stay in a stylistic comfort zone that followed on from the Mozart era. The first two Violin Sonatas come from his two year period living in Paris in the early years of the 19th century, the melodic content pleasingly uncomplicated and presenting few problems for the performers, the keyboard given a prominent role to reflect his own career as a pianist. If the first is never untroubled, the opening of the Second is dramatic, a mood that lasts but briefly, before we settle into an Allegro of pleasing busyness. The sonata ends happily with a mischievous finale contrasting with the sombre mood that opens the Grande Sonata. This too gives way to a pleasing atmosphere, the piano becoming the solo partner as the work progresses to a finale where it takes over with a display of virtuosity, the violin providing a skeleton accompaniment. It is, to say the least, a curious work. The pianist, Susan Kagan, a Ries champion with five discs of solo piano music issued on the Naxos label, is here joined by the American violinist, Eric Grossman in world premiere recordings. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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