Review By 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,
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.