This release features the Opus 9 Piano Sonatas of Jan Ladislav Dussek. Originally, they were written for a melodic instrument + piano, a common practice of the late 1700s. The melodic instrument could either be a violin or flute — performer’s choice.

Innovations in pianoforte construction allow for longer sustained notes. Dussek could transcribe these works for solo piano and still retain the lyrical phrasing of the melodies. The divide between right hand and left hand is more pronounced than it would be in work originally conceived for the fortepiano.

In fact, as it is the Grand Sonata in E-flat major, Op. 75. This 1811 work was written for the keyboard, and it shows. Dussek’s showing off his skill with this work, pushing the limits of the instrument from start to finish.

Viviana Sofronitsky plays a replica of a 1792 Anton Walter fortepiano. In their day, Walter instruments were quite desirable — Mozart owned one. Walter’s innovation was a backcheck. This prevented the hammer from bouncing on the key during rapid and/or loud passages.

Nevertheless, I thought the instrument used in this recording had a jangly sound. Walter instruments were somewhat light, and this pianoforte has a lightweight sound. It also has a somewhat bright sound.

While I didn’t love the sound of the pianoforte, I thought the playing of it top-notch. Sofronitsky performed these works with something of a swagger. Dussek used these works as a vehicle for his abilities in concert, and she does a little showing off herself. It works — and it works beautifully.

Jan Ladislav Dussek: Complete Piano Sonatas, Volume 6
Viviana Sofronitsky, fortepiano
Brilliant Classics 95598