Born in the Bohemian town of Caslav in 1760, Jan Ladislav Dussek was widely traveled by the time he settled in Paris, enjoying the patronage of Queen Marie Antoinette and the aristocracy. So the revolution of 1789 spelled the end of his profitable stay in the French capital. Along with other members of the local music scene, he fled to London. All of the compositions on this CD were written during this London period and reflect the fashion of the times, catchy tunes with moderate demands on the performers so that they could readily be played by accomplished amateurs. As would be expected with a composer who was well known for his piano performances, the works included feature the keyboard front and center.
The Sonata in F, Op.20, No.3 launches immediately into a cheerful, rollicking theme led by the piano and echoed by the violin. An unexpected shift into minor toward the end of the opening Allegro Vivace is a delightful surprise. However, the following two movements fail to deliver on the promise of the opening, although the closing Rondo offers lively passage work on the keyboard that is both entertaining and light-hearted.
The piano takes on an even greater role in the following Sonata in B Flat, Op.24, No.3, reducing the strings to mere accompaniment in the opening Allegro. The conclusion of the two part Sonata features a popular opera melody from Paisiello's `La Molinara' of 1788, which prompted Beethoven to compose his `Piano Variations' WoO 70 on the same theme. On one variation, Dussek finally allows the violin to take center stage and the lovely and talented Susanne von Bausznern handles the passage with aplomb.
The three Sonatas of Op.31 each feature a Scotch or German folk tune, reflecting a popular taste of the general public at the time. A charming Allemande graces the third movement finale of No.1, the Sonata in B Flat. Scotch airs distinguish the remaining Sonatas. Dropping even the barest accompaniment, Sonata No.2 in D is for solo piano. Harald Hoeren acquits himself admirably here, as in the other compositions, injecting an easy elegance into the keyboard lines. The closing Sonata in C features an appealing, but brief interlude of the Scotch melody `Auld Robin Gray' before a rousing Allegro Scherzo wraps up this delightful CD.
The recording from CPO Records is open and spacious. Trio 1790 provides a straight forward presentation of Dussek's 5 Piano Trios, delivering an expressive reading where appropriate, yet letting this charming music speak for itself.