The Dussek bandwagon rolls on, and collectors of this revelatory series will not hesitate to pick up the penultimate volume, which continues to shed light on this Czech contemporary of Beethoven by playing his most dazzlingly varied music on the kind of instruments he wrote it for.
With volume 7 we have reached a pair of opus numbers which offer typical contrasts within Dussek’s idiom. The pair of Op.47 sonatas belong to the genre of the ‘Sonate facile’ – easy sonatas, uncomplicated technically and musically, much like Beethoven’s Op.49, published three years later. The finale of Op.47 No.1 is a ‘Rondo à la Militaire’ which became a famous hit of the period. Indeed, this was a time whenDussek reached the zenith of his fame as performer and composer, with his works and playing conquering the entire continent from England to Russia, and the Op.47 Sonatas were first published in London, despite the composer having fled the capital in disgrace, leaving behind serious debts and a failing marriage.
The great Sonata Op.64, ‘Le Retour à Paris’, is, by contrast, one of Dussek’s most expansive and ambitious works. Composed following his return to the French capital in 1807 after the death of his patron, Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, it is not so much a programmatic sonata as an evocation of Dussek’s feelings on his return to the city which he had left just before the French Revolution in 1789. After the bittersweet impressions of the city irrevocably changed by the Revolution and Napoleon’s ascent in the first two movements, a feeling of despair and attempts of reconciliation with fate can be heard in the Scherzo, giving way to the new happy and carefree way of life in the witty final rondo.
Zvi Meniker is a Russian-born Israeli harpsichordist, organist, fortepianist and conductor, now a professor at the Hochschule für Musik in Hannover. He has made a speciality of studying, teaching and performing the piano music of early Romantics such as Mendelssohn, Chopin and indeed Dussek.
The continuation of an exciting new project: the recording of the complete piano sonatas by Dussek!
Johann Ladislaus Dussek (1760-1812) was born in rural Bohemia. He led a restless life, travelling Europe as a keyboard virtuoso and settling in several European capitals, notably Paris and London, where he became a fashionable pianist and teacher.
Dussek’s style is rich, harmonically expressive and pianistically challenging, Classicism on the brink of Early Romanticism.
This new recording contains the two sonatas Op.47, works published in London and in the style of the “Sonata Facile”, pleasant works aimed for the aspiring amateur. Also included is the grand sonata Op.64, one of the most substantial and complicated sonatas, called “Retour a Paris”, presenting the impressions of the composer after his return to the French capital in 1807.
Zvi Meniker, born in Moscow but raised in Israel, had lessons with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Malcolm Bilson. As a soloists he played with important Early Music groups like Concerto Köln, Il Gardellino and Musica Antiqua Köln.