Notes and Editorial Reviews
The various chamber and orchestral releases of Kalliwoda’s music have turned out to be among the truly sensational discoveries of 2006. These three quartets live up to the high expectations created by such works as the Third, Fifth, and Seventh symphonies. The music is tuneful, rhythmically charged, soulful, texturally fascinating, and easy on the ear, but never trivial. Do you think Tchaikovsky was the first guy to try an all-pizzicato scherzo? Check out String Quartet No. 1?s third movement (mistakenly listed as the second on the tray card). The spirit of Czech folk music hovers over the trio, with its drone bass effects, as it also does in the delicious finale of the Third Quartet, which features
an imaginative use of harmonics (sound clip). And all of this in 1834! We are so far away from the soggy Germanic solemnity of, say, Schumann or Brahms, neither of whom is at his best in the string quartet medium.
By contrast, Kalliwoda wears his learning lightly. Several movements feature extensive fugal writing, but it’s never dry or labored and it always serves to create textural contrast. The tunes of the slow movements are also really beautiful (check out Quartet No. 2), often hovering between major and minor in vintage Schubert/Slavic fashion. In short, these are immensely enjoyable works, and the Talich Quartet plays them with obvious relish. Given the unfamiliarity of the music, and the hope that other quartets will take these pieces into their active repertoires without delay, it’s a bit of a risk to give this release a highest rating; these quartets have more to offer than any single performance, however lovely and well recorded, can reveal. But such is the interest of the repertoire that I can’t recommend this release highly enough, and if something just as fine (or even better) comes along, then lucky us!
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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