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Joachim KACZKOWSKI (1789-1829)
Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op. 8 (c.1810) [39:46]
Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Op. 17 [30:55]
Marucha Agnieszka (violin)
Orkiestra Symfoniczna Filharmonii Lubelskiej im. Henryka Wieniawskiego/Rodek Wociech
rec. 2019, Filharmonii Lubelskiej im. Henryka Wieniawskiego

Though he was widely performed during his lifetime and his works published across Europe, the name of Joachim Kaczkowski has fallen by the wayside. Little biographical information exists and even his year of birth is conjectural. It’s known he was a fine violinist and his popularity in Warsaw was augmented by travels in Germany and it’s telling that many of his concertos, symphonic pieces and chamber works were published in Berlin, Vienna and Milan. He returned to Poland in 1817, led orchestras, and became a court music teacher, performing widely until his death in Warsaw in 1829.

His Violin Concerto No.1 was premiered in 1810 in Warsaw. It opens with a nicely ‘pathetic’ character, the executant-composer’s assurance in spinning lyric episodes being evident as the first movement develops. There is some elegant double-stopping, and adept use of winds and horns. The extensive orchestral recapitulation is effective and dance elements are embedded but it is over-extended for its material, lasting over 18 minutes. The slow movement is, by contrast, compact and cast in a lighter vein, and once again lyricism, predictably, predominates. The only distinctively national music comes in the attractive Polonaise finale, where elegance predominates but which a stern critic might find, as with the first movement, too long-winded.

A move toward greater compaction of material can be felt in the Second Concerto. The orchestral introduction in the earlier concerto lasted three-and-a-half minutes. In the later work it’s only two minutes, and again once the solo violin enters there is a sure sense of elegant, slightly melancholic refinement. The passagework is solid and the technical demands seem rather more searching than in the earlier Op.8 concerto. Kaczkowski’s slow movements are not particularly laden, if the evidence of these two concertos is reflective of more general practice. They tend, as here, to be more pleasing than moving. Rather like the earlier work, Polish character is reserved for the finale, here a Rondeau à la Mazure, a pleasingly genial and characterful movement.

Violinist Agnieszka Marucha, who recorded Raul Koczalski’s Concerto so ably for this label recently, is the excellent soloist, well accompanied by Rodek Wociech. If I felt the passagework in the first movement of Op.8 dragged slightly, the blame resides more with the composer, I suspect; it’s too prolix.

Whilst he is hardly a compositional missing link, Kaczkowski can take his place alongside his contemporary August Fryderyk Duranowski as a representative Polish composer of the time (Duranowski’s A Major Violin Concerto, premiered at the same concert as Kaczkowski’s Op.8, can be found on AP0360). Are we going to get recordings of his chamber music?

Jonathan Woolf

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