Dussek Complete Piano Sonatas Volume 4 – Illuminating

This release features sonatas that span Dussek’s career. And since they’re played on fortepianos of the period, they also provide insight into the development of the piano.

The Sonata in A-flat major, Op. 5 No. 3 and the Sonata in B-flat major, Op. 24 are relatively early works. Written in 1788 and 1793 respectively, Tuija Hakkila performs them on a 1790s 5-octave restored Viennese fortepiano.

The Sonata in A, Op. 43 (1800) and the Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 61 (1806) are played on a copy of a 1799 Longman Clementi fortepiano. It has a 6-octave range, and three strings per note (vs. two for the Viennese instrument).

The differences are audible. The Viennese instrument is noisier. I could easily hear the sound of the action, and there was a slight buzzing in the upper register. The Longman Clementi had an overall smoother sound across the instrument’s range. And it had a stronger sound as well, with action that was almost unnoticeable.

The music reflects the instrument it was written for. The early sonatas on this release sound less expressive, and closer to the Baroque than the later works. Dussek takes full advantage of the newer instrument, expanding the range of the music, and increasing the contrast in dynamics.

Tuija Hakkila is a superb performer, matching her touch to the capabilities of the instruments. The Vienna fortepiano sounded a little fragile, and Hakkila plays it gently (yet expressively).

The Longman Clementi seemed robust enough to handle Dussek’s grand gestures. And Hakkila doesn’t hold back.

Of the four volumes in this series, I found this installment the most interesting, and the most instructive. And there’s some fine music-making going on here, too.

Jan Ladislav Dussek
Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4
Sonatas Op. 5 No. 3; Op. 24; Op. 43, and Op. 61
Tuija Hakkila, piano
Brilliant 95604

More Recent Posts