This is truly a lovely disc, and one of the most invigorating musical hours I have had to listen to for quite a while. Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda was born in Prague in 1801 and studied the violin and composition at the Prague Conservatoire. At the age of 21, he accepted to become music director to Prince Egon III of Furstenberg at the court of Donaueschingen, and he remained in the service of this art loving royal for 43 yeas, alternating between the duties of Kapellmeister at the court and those of a freelance virtuoso.
He undertook several concert tours that took him to Magdeburg, Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Munich and even Prague itself. The Gewandhaus in Leipzig was also one of his favourite venues. He returned to his family in Karlsruhe in 1866, soon after his retirement, where he died later that year aged 65.
Kalliwoda's output is vast indeed and comprises compositions of all kinds. Although he has a very distinctive style and originality, he is regarded as a transitional figure between the classical and romantic periods, and the pieces on this CD have a taste of both. The Third Symphony of 1830 is a truly splendid work full of catchy tunes and surprising twists and in its time, it was the most popular of the seven he wrote.
Kalliwoda seemed to have a predilection for the Concert Overture, as he wrote no fewer than 24 and most of them are dedicated to certain persons and institutions as is the case in Op. 145. Written for the Prince's silver wedding in 1843, it is an ebullient piece with a solemn introduction and plenty of harmonic and melodic transformations.
The Variations for Clarinet, Op. 128 and the Introduction and Rondeau for Horn, Op. 51 date from 1844 and 1833 respectively. Both are short compositions, but they excel in virtuosic context and swaggering melodies. Dieter Klocker and Radovan Vlaktovic are both in superb form, dispatching the pieces with charm and abandon. The symphony is given a strong and persuasive reading and the Hamburg Symphony's empathy with Kalliwoda is very evident. A peach of an album, memorably conducted, executed and recorded.
Copyright © 2006, Gerald Fenech