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Piano Concerto No. 3 in C sharp minor, Op. 55 [Study Edition]
Year of Publication:
Piano Reduction: Perfect
C sharp minor
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Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) was one of the greatest pianists of his time and a composer of exceptional abilities. Ries studied pianoforte (but not composition) with Beethoven in Vienna and the two men remained on cordial terms for the rest of their lives. In the last year of his life Ries co-wrote a book of Beethoven reminiscences that remain one of the most valuable sources of information about his life and character. Ries composed prolifically in many genres and unsurprisingly left an important body of works for pianoforte and orchestra. The autograph score of the Piano Concerto in c minor, is dated 'Petersburg 1812' but the incomplete state of the manuscript suggests that it was either written in extreme haste, possibly as the composer fled the country to escape Bonaparte's invading army, or that its composition was interrupted by other projects. It was given its premiere - with Ries as soloist - in Stockholm on 14 March 1813 along with several other works by the composer. The c minor Concerto is an impressive work. The shadow of Beethoven can be detected at times in Ries's bold handling of the orchestra and, of course, in its general musical structure, but the style of the solo writing is recognizably Ries's own. It is certainly virtuosic - there are numerous bravura passages in the outer movements and complex, florid decorations of the melodic lines in the central Larghetto - but more remarkable is the intensely lyrical quality of the writing, the rhythmic subtlety of the accompaniments and the manner in which Ries exploits the colours of the instrument. Allan Badley