Johann Wenzel KALLIWODA (1801-1866)
Concertino for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in E major, Op. 15 (1829) [16:55]
Symphony No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 7 (1825) [27:52]
Introduction and Variations for Clarinet and Orchestra in B Major, Op. 128 (1844) [12:22]
Daniel Sepec (violin), Pierre-André Taillard (clarinet)
Hofkapelle Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius
rec. January 2013, February 2014 SWR studios Stuttgart and Baden-Baden.
CARUS 83.289 [57:10]

The Prague-trained Jan Václav Kalivoda became Germanized as Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda in forty-three years as Kapellmeister in Donaueschingen. He was a prolific composer, with opus numbers up to 250, and he was respected by his contemporaries. Robert Schumann appropriated the opening of the Menuetto in Kalliwoda’s first symphony for use in his own Symphony No. 4. Kalliwoda seems to me a kind of lesser Mendelssohn. This is amiable, early Romanticism, written before Nineteenth Century music routinely became heavy of heart. The music is affable and well-constructed, but low on drama. These are the qualities of an outstanding neighbour, but not necessarily of an inspiring artist.

Frieder Bernius and the Hofkapelle Stuttgart offer a sampler of Kalliwoda’s work, including his Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 7 as the major example. There is little that is notably original in this 1825 work, but Kalliwoda employs the conventions of his era with great skill. The first movement opens with arresting bass growls in a slow introduction, although the following Allegro is more well-mannered, featuring a mournful, sighing first subject for strings. The Adagio at times sounds like domesticated Beethoven, which seems appropriate for its time. There are also moments which share the musical world of Schubert’s Symphony 9, but with less imagination. The Menuetto which caught Schumann’s attention moves along smartly. The finale shows good cheer. Throughout there are wonderful sounds from early romantic winds bubbling with freshness.

The Introduction and Variations for Clarinet and Orchestra, Op. 128, began as an arrangement of a piece for piano four-hands, before Kalliwoda turned it into an excellent show-piece for clarinet. Soloist Pierre-André Taillard makes the most of many acrobatic leaps and thrills with his trills. Much of this short work consists of crowd-pleasing display (not that there is anything wrong with pleasing crowds), but there are also some quieter, magical moments, including an evocation of the spirit of Weber in one of the more lyrical variations.

Daniel Sepec is a fine soloist in the Violin Concertino No. 1. This seventeen-minute piece has echoes of Weber (again) and Paganini. A martial opening is followed by a lyrical central section (there is no true slow movement). The concluding Polonaise provides ample display over a mesmerizing rhythm, ending in a rousing coda.

A rival recording of this Concertino by Ariadne Daskalakis, accompanied by Michael Alexander Willens and the Kölner Akademie has a bit more swagger. That cpo disc offers a second Violin Concertino plus three overtures, and may be an equally effective introduction to the music of Kalliwoda (review).

The always reliable and meticulously well-prepared Bernius has made many exciting recordings, notably of Mendelssohn, Bach, Zelenka, Schutz, and Cherubini. Bernius is committed to Kalliwoda, having recorded Symphonies 5 and 6, on Orfeo C 667 061, which I have not heard. With Bernius’s keen interest and high musical values, this disc offers performances likely as good as this music will receive. It is well worth hearing if you have any any inclination to explore music beyond the symphonic canon,

The sound quality of this recording is good, although not exceptional. A compact disc with less than an hour’s music is not a good deal, and I wonder why Carus did not include another example of Kalliwoda’s music.

Richard Kraus

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