Dussek: Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 8 - Sonatinas

Album cover art for upc 5028421959825
Label: BRILLIANT CLASSICS
Catalog: BRI95982
Format: COMPACT DISC

Dütschler, Ursula

Comparatively few listeners even today know how much Dussek did toward developing the technical resources of the piano. The contemporary of Mozart, and a great pianist in his own right, he composed more than fifty Sonatas, twelve Concertos and many smaller pieces responding to the tastes of his audiences and publishers for smaller and lighter pieces such as variations on popular themes. The Sonatinas gathered here were composed primarily for instruction: simple and conventional in style, smaller in technical and emotional range, as well as shorter in length than his sonatas. Yet Dussek was a great melodist and, even when trivial, he never ceases to be graceful and pleasing. Dussek was resident in London throughout the 1790s and published there a good proportion of his prophetically Romantic sonatas and shorter pieces such as these sonatinas, which appeared in print in 1793 (Op.20) and 1794 (Op.34). Each Sonatina in the Op.20 set – also known as Op.19 – falls into a pair of short but distinct movements: a fairly quick, always sunny Allegro followed by a slightly slower Rondo. This is not the place for the keyboard fireworks of his later sonatas. Dussek was catering for the musical preferences of London middle-class amateurs, who hankered after a Romantic spotlighting of melody within the thinner, clearer lines of the Classical keyboard idiom. The 'song without words' texture can be traced in a direct line from Dussek through to Mendelssohn and beyond. The Sonatinas Op.20 were originally published ad libitum accompaniments for flute whereas Dussek’s introductory dedication to Op.34 makes their didactic purpose clear: ‘Twelve progressive lessons for the Piano Forte in which are introduced several characteristic airs of different nations, dedicated to the Right Honorable Lady Harriot Montague.’

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