This delightful album was recorded in 1992 in Cologne; at the time of its 2011 issue by the Capriccio label, it was still one of the few available recordings of the music of Jan Ládislav Dussek, who wielded more of an influence on Beethoven than the other way around. The Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 49, was composed in 1801, and in its expansive first movement, noble Adagio, and briskly folkish finale it seems a clear forerunner to the music of Beethoven's middle period. Both composers exploited the resources of the muscular pianos made by Scots-British manufacturer John Broadwood, a splendid 1806 example of which is played here by German historical keyboard specialist Andreas Staier. The Piano Concerto in B flat major, Op. 22, is an earlier work, with all three movements curiously in the same key; it is less innovative but nevertheless has a voice distinct from that of Mozart and Haydn. Most interesting of all just for the sheer surprise value may be the Tableau "Marie Antoinette," Op. 23: a programmatic representation of the fate of Marie Antoinette up to her death, complete with falling guillotine. These events are recounted in short statements in French. At first the words are given and then are followed by music, but later in the piece they begin to overlap in the manner of a movie score, which is a very effective device. The booklet includes commentary, with a useful biography of Dussek (he led a very exciting life). The Marie Antoinette texts are given only in French and German, but they're not long, and a smattering of either language would be enough to follow the action. A terrific release from the performer who is perhaps the most imaginative of those specializing in keyboard music of the late 18th century.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 49 (50), Craw WVZ 187|
|Piano Concerto in B flat major, Op. 22, Craw WVZ 97|