Dussek: Dussek and the Harp: Harp Sonatas, Op. 34; Favourite Sonata, Op. 37; Favourite Duet, Op. 11; Duo, Op. 38

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COMPOSERS: Dussek
LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: Dussek and the Harp: Harp Sonatas, Op. 34; Favourite Sonata, Op. 37; Favourite Duet, Op. 11; Duo, Op. 38
PERFORMER: Danielle Perrett (harp), James Ellis (violin), Helen Verney (cello), Warwick Cole (piano), Gillian Jones (horn)
CATALOGUE NO: CDE 84451 Reissue (1993)
The booklet for this reissue tells of the possible intrigue between the composer Jan Ladislav Dussek and the harpist Anne-Marie Krumpholtz, who both came to London in the aftermath of the French Revolution – Dussek was a musician dangerously favoured by the aristocracy – and together gave concerts in Salomon’s Hanover Rooms series. Well, maybe the relationship was more than friendly, maybe not, but the CD itself includes five delightful works for harp. Two, the Op. 34 Sonatas listed in New Grove as piano sonatas with violin and cello accompaniment, are played by harp alone. The others – a Favourite Duet for harp and piano, the Favourite Sonata with violin and cello and the Duo for harp, piano and optional horn – are given with various accomplices, again not always in accordance with what Grove says. The term ‘Favourite’ suggests music designed for pleasure rather than any proto-Beethovenian profundity, and that is what, for the most part, these pieces offer, though sometimes with a Haydn-like refinement and inventiveness. Danielle Perrett plays a single-action harp with her usual elegance and flair, though James Ellis’s violin seems oddly weak-toned, even allowing for period-style equipment and techniques. Stephen Pettitt

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