Johann Wenzel KALLIWODA (1801-1866)
Overture No. 3 in C, Op. 55 (1834) [4:31]
Violin Concertino No. 5 in A minor, Op. 133 (c.1840 rev 1843-44) [22:06]
Overture No. 7 in C minor, Op. 101 (1838) [7:47]
Violin Concertino No. 1 in E, Op. 15 (1828) [16:01]
Overture No. 10 in F minor, Op. 142 (1842) [7:02]
Ariadne Daskalakis (violin)
Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens
rec. January 2011, Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal
CPO 777 692-2 [57:28]
There are plenty of Czech-not-German composers of the eighteenth and nineteenth-centuries. Frequently their geographical travels westward entailed a change of name, the Germanicisation ensuring their smoother reception in the princely courts in which they plied their trade. Kalliwoda was Prague-born but his musical education in the city was in the secure hands of Mannheim-educated Germans, and this – allied to subsequent studies deriving from Viennese and French schools (Kalliwoda was reportedly a splendid violin soloist) – equipped him with catholic musical experiences.

The three overtures and two Violin Concertinos in this disc show him to have been a master of rapid conjunctions and juxtapositions. The Overture No.3 in C major, Op.55 is not simply music of instant appeal, rather it displays a real control of dynamic tension in a work of barely four-and-a-half-minutes. The assured Mannheim crescendos and fortissimo outbursts, whilst clearly not novel in themselves, are stirring and splendidly calibrated for maximum theatrical effect. Overture No.7 - the jewel case prints this correctly but the booklet repeats the details for the Overture No.3, so rely on the jewel case – was composed in 1838 and is somewhat more expansive than its younger brother. Schumann praised it, and it does indeed mark an even greater control of form. Kalliwoda is fond of presenting woodwind motifs – delicate orchestral stasis - immediately followed by explosive brass writing, rather like a bird’s chirruping followed by the trumpeting of an elephant. This makes the music sound cheaper than it is, because these fist-shaking fortissimos are quasi-operatic in application, and tremendously exciting. Overture No.10 reprises all these qualities and effects, adding dance and hunting elements. One moment we are at the ball, the next riding across country. Perhaps this is what a contemporary critic disliked when he wrote that it was ‘very casual and flippant in execution’. Well, what the critic found thus in 1842 may strike us now more as the product of a witty and unfettered musical mind.

The two Concertinos are somewhat more conventional, though on a considerably larger scale. No.5 in A minor was written around 1840 but revised during 1843-44. The solo line is elegantly refined, the orchestration highly competent and though cast in one movement it’s clearly sub-divided into three sections, along the lines of other such works of the time – Ernst, say. Hunting horns galvanise the finale and Ariadne Daskalakis’s imitation of the horns is a particularly appealing element of her playing. Joviality and high spirits mark out this Rondo. The Concertino No.7 was actually composed in 1828 – its opus number precedes that of No.5 – and once again we hear Kalliwoda’s pervasive use of horns. The violin line pirouettes adeptly and whilst the central Allegretto isn’t especially distinctive it’s pleasant. Again the finale serves up the raciest and most playful music. Daskalakis tends to highlight the refinement more than the vigour of the music, but she’s otherwise an entertaining guide. As throughout, the American conductor Michael Alexander Willens directs the fine Cologne Academy with perceptive understanding of the milieu.

The recording quality is good and the notes both readable and well written. Kalliwoda is a composer worth getting to know. Within his compass, and at his best, he proves genuinely invigorating company.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous reviews: David Barker and Brian Reinhart (Recording of the Month)

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