Sometimes it’s a long process for me to decide whether or not I’ll recommend a particular title on Expedition Audio, and other times only a couple passes through the recording is enough. On very rare occasions, after hearing only the opening measures, I feel pretty confident that I’d like to share the discovery of a recording with others (providing, of course, the rest of the CD lives up to those opening seconds). This Camerata release of chamber music by Jan Ladislav Dussek titled ‘Grand Sonata’ is one of those; the extraordinarily high level of the musicianship is apparent, practically with the first notes heard.
Czech composer Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812) was a gifted concert pianist and an extraordinary composer, admired not only as a musician, but for his personal character as well. He was held in the highest esteem by the most famous of his contemporaries, and his music remained enormously poplar well after his death. Solo piano music and chamber music that includes the piano make up most of his output, and the later is what we have on this program of a piano quartet and quintet, and his Grand Sonata for flute, cello and piano in F major, Op. 65. Dussek was writing in that space of time between the Classical and Romantic periods. While the influences of Mozart and especially Haydn are present, so too is a foreshadowing of the music of Schubert and Schumann. From our current perspective, it may be difficult to discern, but it’s surprising how ahead of his time this composer was. In a few words, the music is elegant and graceful, especially in these finely detailed performances.
I began this recommendation praising the extraordinarily musical performances. There’s no need to say much more about the performers than to mention some credentials. Flute player Walter Auer is principal flute of the Vienna Philharmonic and double bassist Jerzy Dybal is also a member of the VPO. Violinist Albena Danallova is the very first Concert Mistress of the Vienna State Opera and cellist Bernhard Naoki Hedenborg is a member of that same orchestra. All of the musicians perform on modern instruments. Pianist Yoko Fog-Urata plays a Bösendorfer; she employs a touch that evokes the lighter sound of a fortepiano, but with the rich sonority of a modern grand. This recording is a winner in the three big categories of repertoire, performance and engineering and should not be missed by any interested listener. The final movement of the Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op. 56 is provided with this recommendation for you to listen to.
The centerpiece of this concert of works by Johann Ladislaus Dussek is his Grand Sonata for flute, cello and piano. The performers include the principal flutist of the Vienna Philharmonic and other noted Viennese musicians.
Johann Ladislaus Dussek, composer
Johann Ladislaus Dussek (Jan Ladislav Dusík) was a Czech composer and pianist, the most famous member of a long line of musicians. He was born February 12, 1760 in Čáslav, Bohemia and died March 20, 1812 in St.-Germain-en-Laye, France. A good-looking, womanizing and flamboyant person, Dussek’s life story, strewn with affairs and other romantic incidents, reads like a novel.
Walter Auer, flute
Walter Auer was born in Villach, Carinthia, in 1971. He began his professional career as principal flute with the Dresden Philharmonic and the NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in Hannover before switching to the same position at the Vienna State Opera and hence to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 2003.
Albena Danailova, violin
In 2008 the Bulgarian violinist Albena Danailova became the first female concertmaster in the history of the Vienna State Opera and since September 2011 is also the first female musician elected to this position by the Vienna Philharmonic.
Robert Bauerstatter, viola
Bernhard Naoki Hedenborg, violoncello
Born in 1979 in Salzburg, Bernhard Naoki started playing cello at the age of six. He is a prizewinner of many national and international competitions, including a Silver Medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians and the winner of the European Music Prize of Young Musicians in Oslo.
Yoko Fog-Urata, piano