A new disc of Dussek’s melodically fertile, charming yet continually inventive music is always welcome, especially in the keyboard medium of which the composer was so renowned a virtuoso in his own time, and on an instrument with the responsive touch and palette of colours for which he was composing.
Naruhiko Kawaguchi was winner of the Rome Fortepiano International Competition 2013. This is his first complete album, and it showcases an artist of no mean technique and imagination, whose work in historically informed performance values has produced performances of great elan and sensitivity.
Dussek’s Op.35 sonatas bear a significant dedication to Muzio Clementi, who had done so much before him to explore and extend keyboard technique on the early experimental examples of work in the evolution of instruments from harpsichord to piano. Dussek himself followed Clementi’s example in producing a teaching method for the instrument, co-authored with Ignaz Pleyel, of which Kawaguchi plays some examples which have scarcely been heard on record. Yet they are no mere dry studies but settings of songs from different countries, testing both technical and expressive skill and running the gamut of the fortepiano’s expressive range, which Dussek had explored in partnership with the maker John Broadwood.
The sonatas are naturally more complex and developed works, which characteristically modulate between keys and moods with quicksilver unpredictability and elegance, reminiscent of the work of C.P.E. Bach and full of ornate decoration yet also hinting at an almost-orchestral weight of timbre which has led some commentators to see these sonatas as prefiguring the revolutionary work of Beethoven.
Czech composer Jan Ladislaw Dussek (1760-1812) was a pupil of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and became one of the first piano virtuosos, traveling and concertising in many European countries. During his 10-year stay in London he developed with the manufacturer Broadwood the first 6-foot piano, extending its technical possibilities to a great extent.
Dussek’s piano works, rooted in CPE Bach’s Sturm und Drang style, look forward to the Romantic era, in its use of Affetti, dramatic contrasts and gestures and an unheard-of virtuosity.
This new recording presents the 3 Piano Sonatas Op. 35, dedicated to Muzio Clementi, and offering already glimpses of the young Beethoven (Pathetique!).
Excellent performance played on a pianoforte by Naruhiko Kawaguchi, winner of the Rome Fortepiano International Competition.