Leave it to the classical music biz to issue three discs of Kalliwoda orchestral music at exactly the same time! Between Orfeo, CPO, and this newcomer, we now have four of his seven symphonies available in excellent performances (a previous release of Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6 on Centaur isn't at the same level as these). The four works on the present release give a fine idea of the composer's wide-ranging inventiveness and ready appeal. The Overture Op. 145 (No. 12 out of a total of 24) was composed around 1843 and has a main theme with almost exactly the same shape as that of the first-movement allegro of Schumann's Spring Symphony. It's an ebullient, celebratory work that also contains a popularRead more anthem related to its dedicatee: you can check out the booklet notes if you're curious.
The Introduction and Variations for clarinet and orchestra is, as you might expect from a Czech composer, brilliantly written and splendidly tuneful. You might say the same about the Introduction and Rondo for horn and orchestra, a delicious confection that gives the soloist a real workout. Both pieces receive sensational performances from clarinetist Dieter Klöcker and horn player Radovan Vlatkovic. It's such a shame that short concertante pieces like this have all but vanished from the modern repertoire in favor of big, long concertos. Put a few of them together and you'd have a program that would please any self-respecting audience, never mind showing off the talents of the soloist.
The brilliant and original Third Symphony dates from 1830 and was a seminal work in its day. Hearing it now, it's easy to understand why. Its first movement is built on a five-note motto theme of very odd character (its intervals include a tritone) that Kalliwoda claimed was "discovered" by one of his children who was fiddling at the piano. It gives the music a most interesting harmonic coloration and serves as the basis for some splendid contrapuntal development. There's a central fugato, in particular, that could have served as the model for any number of subsequent symphonists, especially of the Russian school. This motto returns in both the andante and finale to introduce each movement's recapitulation, and it turns positively menacing in the symphony's minor-key coda. Schumann, who knew Kalliwoda's work well, easily could have been thinking of this piece in structuring his own Second Symphony, and Liszt isn't too far away either.
Check out the opening wind chords of the andante, followed by solo cello--you might be hearing a foreshadowing of Scheherazade, while the scherzo, here labelled "menuetto", sounds like a precursor of Dvorák's Slavonic Dances. The trio section is a light presto that recalls either Mendelssohn or Beethoven, depending on whether you are thinking forward or backward. The finale takes a sidelong glance at the finale of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 before moving on to its own business. It's a hugely exciting sonata-rondo movement with another big contrapuntal development section rising to a thrilling climax that's suddenly cut off so that the motto theme can initiate the recapitulation.
Johannes Moesus leads the Hamburg Symphony in a performance full of character, with excellent wind playing and plenty of presence from the brass and timpani. Not the least of Kalliwoda's skill lies in his solidly symphonic orchestration, in which everyone has an important part (listen to the wind writing in the andante, for example) and participates equally in the evolving dialog. In this sense Kalliwoda really does differ from most of his contemporaries (above all Schumann, but even Mendelssohn to some extent), with the possible exception of Berlioz. The Third Symphony is an important and masterful piece of music, a landmark in the history of the German romantic symphony. Don't miss it.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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