Jan Ladislav Dussek Piano Sonatas Volume 2

Brilliant Classics is using eight pianists for their traversal of Dussek piano sonatas. It’s a, well, brilliant idea. It allows each pianist to dive deep into the works they’re going to record.

Volume 2 of the series features pianist Piet Kuijken. His thoughtful liner notes show the amount of research he’s applied to these sonatas — and they clearly inform his performance.

Dussek’s Op. 39 piano sonatas were published in 1799, while he was in London. They reflect the style preferred by English audiences — light and elegant. Two of the three only have two movements.

Kuijken chose to record these works on a 1790s Longman and Clementi pianoforte — which would have been in many London homes and venues at the time. It’s a great choice. The music was written with the timbre and technical possibilities of this type of pianoforte.

The tone of the instrument is full. At the same time, in the forte passages, the chords sounded (to my ears) a little thin. But then these sonatas aren’ t Beethoven. Dussek was writing pleasant, diverting music, and he succeeds.

As Kuijken points out though, these may be light works, but they’re not slight. Dussek works with his melodies in some fairly sophisticated ways.

Also included is “La Matinée,” the Piano Sonata in D, Op. 25 No. 2. This is also a London work, written in 1795. it seems to lean more towards the gallant style than the Op. 39 set. Still, there’s a lot to enjoy in this modest little sonata.

Oh yes. I’m definitely looking forward to volume three.

Jan Ladislav Dussek: Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2
Sonatas Op. 39. 1-3 & Op. 25, No. 2
Piet Kuijken, fortepiano
Brilliant Classics, 95599

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