Over the course of his long and eventful career, Dussek composed 38 violin sonatas – or rather sonatas for the keyboard, accompanied by the violin – and the partnership of Julia Huber and Miriam Altmann is acquiring impressive credentials and critical praise as they gradually uncover them for the first time.
‘This is one excellent disc,’ noted the Fanfare reviewer of Volume 1 (96385). ‘Julia Huber and fortepianist Miriam Altmann give wonderful renditions. Each plays off of each other, with clarity, technical acumen, and a good sense of phrasing… You ought to have this as an integral part of any collection of chamber music of the period.’
Volume 2 (96588) was received withequal enthusiasm: ‘This is an outstanding continuation of the series… done with style and verve by Julia Huber and Mariam Altmann… Well worth getting.’ Volume 3 presents a contrast of sonatas from the beginning and near the end of Dussek’s life. Even the early Op.4 No.3 Sonata, however, shares the qualities of the mature Dussek noted by one contemporary reviewer: ‘Dussek's strength in composition lies in the idiosyncrasy, the novelty, the striking, brilliant quality of his rich invention, and, as far as the development is concerned, in the fire and the intimacy which his works seldom lack.’
Fire and intimacy: what else would we expect from a wide-ranging opening movement subtitled ‘L’amante disperato’ (The forlorn lover), with playing indications such as Amoroso and Lamentabile and dynamic indications from triple piano to triple forte?The sonata’s argument is concentrated in the piano part, with the violin marked as ‘ad libitum’, whereas the two Sonatas Op.69 show more of a partnership, albeit still led from the keyboard in the manner of works in the same genre bv Mozart and (until the ‘Kreutzer’) Beethoven.
Both Op.69 Sonatas take the listener on a gripping narrative through typically bravura piano writing and unexpected turns of incident. No.2 is unusually structured in two expansive halves, while the quick outer movements of No.1 are separated by a songful Adagio subtitled ‘Les soupirs’ (The Sighs’) no doubt for the appreciation of Dussek’s French audience.
- The third volume of the recording of the complete Violin Sonatas by Dussek, containing the two Sonatas Op.69 and the early Sonata Op.4.
- 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. His close connection to piano manufacturer Broadwood resulted in important innovations, notably the extension of the keyboard to 6 octaves.
- Dussek’s style is rich, harmonically expressive and pianistically challenging, Classicism on the brink of Early Romanticism.
- Carl Friedrich Cramer writes in the “Magazin der Musik” in 1783: "These sonatas are the only ones of their kind. Rich in new thoughts and traces of the author's great musical genius. Very brilliant, and appropriate to the instrument. The accompaniment of the violin is so artificially combined with the piano part that both instruments are kept in constant attention; so that these sonatas require a violin player who is just as skilled as a piano player."
- Played by Julia Huber (violin), a prizewinner of the Locatelli Competition Amsterdam, and concertmaster of L'Orfeo Baroque Orchestra Linz and La Stagione Frankfurt. Miriam Altmann studied piano, fortepiano and harpsichord, she specializes in the Early Classical repertoire and recorded works by Gyrowetz. Both musicians play period instruments.