Dussek: Sonatas and Duos for Harp & other instruments

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COMPOSERS: Dussek
LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: Sonatas and Duos for Harp & other instruments
PERFORMER: Danielle Perrett (harp), James Ellis (violin), Helen Verney (cello), Warwick Cole (piano), Gillian Jones (horn)
CATALOGUE NO: CDE 84244 DDD
This is a charming disc, light, elegant, and poised, as 18th-century music performed on instruments of the period should be. Dussek was well known for his keyboard abilities – lesser known, regrettably, for his glass harmonica skills. Several of his works feature a harp – his wife was a noted executant – and five such pieces are played here by Danielle Perrett, on the single-action harp of the late 18th century. The works have been arranged variously for harp solo, harp and keyboard (early piano), harp ‘with accompaniments for violin and violoncello’, and harp with keyboard and horn (hand horn) ‘ad libitum’. The combination of harp and early piano in ‘A Favourite Duet for a Harp and Pianoforte, Op. 11’ with which this CD begins, is utterly delightful, as the two instruments clank together producing sounds that are remarkably similar. The third-movement Rondo-allegro seems a little slow, reducing the ‘fizz’ factor by a few notches. The bold arpeggio opening of the Sonata for Harp, Op. 34/1 recalls Mozart’s C minor Sonata K457, even if Dussek’s work never rises above the enchantingly superficial.

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Perrett’s performances are elegant and nimble, the sound of the harp positively opulent by comparison with the spindly, undernourished period violin in the ‘Favourite Sonata for the Harp, Op. 37, with accompaniments for violin and violoncello’. Annette Morreau