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DUSSEK, Jan Ladislav.
Piano Trios. Sonata in F, op. 20 no. 3 Sonata in B flat, op. 24 no.3. Three Sonatas Op 31 for piano with accompaniment for violin and bass with Scotch and German Airs: 1 in B flat for piano trio, 2 in D for piano solo , 3 in C for piano trio.
Trio 1790 ( Susanne von Bausznern , Philipp Bosbach and Harold Hoeron.)
CPO 999 583-2 (DDD) (63.05)
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Jan Ladislav Dussek lived from 1760 to 1812 and was a very colourful character. His music has the elegance of Mozart and the enthusiasm of early Beethoven. It is very enjoyable if not earth-moving.

There is nothing in this charming music to indicate Dussek's stormy life. Once in favour with Paris aristocracy and with Marie Antoniette in particular, he fled Paris for his own safety avoiding the guillotine and came to London where lived for about ten years . Then his recurring troubles of money and women caused him to move on. Twenty two years after his birth in Bohemia in 1760 he met C. P. B. Bach in Hamburg and had composition lessons. There are stories of his becoming involved in Russian politics and a plan to assassinate Catherine the Second. In 1791 he toured Scotland with the father of the soprano Sophia Corri whom he married the following year but, after a while she wanted to leave him. Dussek became involved with the wife of the composer Johann Krumpholz who was to drown himself in the Seine in 1790 because of his wife's infidelity. Both his wife and Dussek's Sophia were both harpists.

Dussek's business with his father-in-law and the consequent dire financial problems caused him to flee again and it is believed that he never saw his wife or daughter, Olivia, again.. He worked in Prussia and became a supporter of Napoleon. He died in Paris in 1812 of gout.

It may seem strange at first to call Piano Trios, Sonatas but it is probably because they contain Sonata movements. The three sonatas that make up Opus 20 are arrangements of his sonatas for violin and piano, Opus 8, the three Opus 24 are original compositions.

The Sonata Op. 20 no. 3 is in three movements. The opening allegro vivace has a sparkling and dominant piano part. It is a movement that contains humour. It is charming, elegant and logical in musical form and structure. Sometimes it is quite scintillating. It is very predictable but, nonetheless, played with great elan. The Cantabile con expressione succeeds in the excellent choice of tempo so that the music keeps moving. It is a wistful piece but not weak in any way. The Rondo is marked allegretto and, in the main, bounces along with the piano taking the lion's share again. It is more of an allegro actually and maintains its pace and makes for a very successful piece.

The Sonata in B flat has two movements only , the second being a larghetto con variazoni . The opening allegro con spirito is just that and, again , well done to the performers for keeping the music so alive. It never becomes dull. The piano part again reveals Dussek's own virtuosic abilities. It sparkles magnificiently. I should like details of the piano used. But we should not detract from the other performers. In fact, their playing as a trio is as perfect as it gets. And I look forward to hearing more of their recordings. What I like so much is that their performances are so accurate and reliable but never merely clinical. The theme of the variation movement is both simple and effective. There is no sentimentality and, perhaps, a little rubato would not have gone amiss.

The Sonata Op. 31 no. 1 has an allemande in the finale hence the German connection. The Sonata no.2 incorporates the Scottish reel Cauld be the rebels cast oppressors base and bloody whereas the Sonata no.3 includes the Scotch Air Auld Robin Gray in the slow middle movement.

The simplicity of Dussek's writing can cause us to forget his evident skill.

A very attractive disc and a wonderful example of how to play chamber music.

While the music may not be stunning, it is full of life and unoppressive sunshine and the disc is recommended.

David Wright




David Wright



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