A romantic Czech whose time has apparently arrived
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 01/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Prague-born Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda (1801-1866) is a voice of dramatic minor key romantic-era symphonic music that apparently has arrived. The recent issue of American Record Guide reviewed two new CDs of his symphonies and included an ad for this recording. The following issue of Fanfare reviewed three recordings of Kalliwoda's symphonies incluidng this one.
Why all the fuss over this guy and his music? I guess the answer must be timing -- it either must be Kalliwoda's time for greater exposure or the recording companies decided it was time to promote his music so they sent American outlets freebies of his recordings.
In any event, Kalliwoda's voice, based on this recording, is most influenced by Beethoven and shows more than vague reflections of Weber, Mendelssohn, Schumann and, on occasion, Schubert.
His Symphony No. 5 in B minor, from 1840, opens with the most typical of Kalliwoda's devices -- brass fanfares driven by Beethoven-like rhythmic timpani beats that evolve into Mendelssohnian lyricism. The scherzo has the tenor of Weber and the third movement Allegretto grazioso seems more uniquely Kalliwodan. More brass and timpani-driven rhythm fills out the concluidng Rondo - Allegro assai, where chromatics come early and a later string-flute development sounds like early Schubert, only to close with a more Beethovian flourish.
The Symphony No. 7 in G minor, from 1841, seems more uniquely voiced and less like romantic counterparts. It opens misterioso then engages another timpani-driven brass-led Weberian theme similar to "Introduction to the Dance". A later theme is martial before closing in dotted rhythm brass and timpani. A scherzo follows, with more drama (no respose) in the third movement and an expansive Schubertian Allegro vivace in the closing movement. The 11-minute plus Overture No. 16 in A minor, from 1863, sounds more like Schumann than anything else on this recording.
The earmarks of romantic composers were everywhere in these symphonies even though Kalliwoda's voice emerges more as time elapses. If this recording is a true indicator, Kalliwoda did not care for, or refused to write, slow movements; there is no slow movement in either symphony.
I selected this recording for purchase, among those that were available, because of the proponents -- the New Orchestra from Cologne and leader Christoph Spering. I was impressed with their collaborations in Mendelssohn's "Lobgesang" symphony, Cherubini's Requiem, and -- even though I did not enjoy the Mendelssohn reduction -- their reconstruction of Mendelssohn's arrangement of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, where Spering's name first became known worldwide.
This German period performance group's recordings are always dramatic and recorded with great clarity so you hear all the instruments and voices. Spering is a researcher and condutor whose leadership is marked by rhythmic drive, clarity in exectuion, and drama. These qualities suit the music of Kalliwoda, who was most influenced by Beethoven as a young man and later reflected the changing romantic musical mores of the 19th century.
Like their recordings on the Opus 11/Naive label, this CPO recording has outstanding sound. Recorded in 2004 in Cologne, you can hear every one of the New Orchestra's 40 or so instrumentalists at one time or another. The notes suggest Spering and his group are working on a Beethoven cycle. This would be an exciting project, if realized in recorded format, for those that enjoy the Beethoven of Norrington and Gardiner.
Anyone looking for another romantic era symphonic voice should try this recording or sample one of the other new recordings of the music of Kalliwoda. You will hear familiar voices wrapped in a new sound that emerges from Beethoven's "Eroica" through the heyday of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Lizst."
Three vigorous minor key works by a forgotten early romantic
Russ | Richmond, VA | 11/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda (1801-1866) was a Czech composer, with seven symphonies and sixteen concert overtures to his credit. Beethoven's presence is felt throughout these works, but Kalliwoda's oeuvre looks ahead to Schumann, Dvorák and beyond.
Symphony No. 5 (1840) opens with a dramatic brass fanfare that seems a bit ahead of its time. With assertive playing required by the strings and melodies which frequently modulate to different keys, Kalliwoda's contrapuntal and developmental skill is evident. This may be mere coincidence, but the first movement of Kalliwoda's fifth contains a repitive da - da - da - daah motif (6:25 minute mark, 8:45 minute mark) that seems to acknowledge classical music's most famous fifth symphony. This music is never less than enjoyable, but the themes themselves (as discussed by the reviewer below) are sometimes unmemorable. The exception in the fifth symphony is the third movement, which contains a lyrical, lilting melody which stayed in my head long after the music stopped. The symphony's finale is full of fiery passion and aggressive string playing.
In my opinion, the themes with the Symphony No. 7 (1841) are not quite as distinctive as the themes within the fifth, but the seventh does contain several gripping statements and commanding orchestral tuttis which kept me engaged. The Overture No. 16, dating from 1863, is the latest composition on this program. After a short introduction, a delightful melody is introduced by the clarinet that is so full of Bohemian charm that it is quite easy to mistake it for Dvorák. Interestingly, the climax of the overture contains powerful statements in the brass that are almost Nordic in nature.
If the three works presented here are any indication, Kalliwoda certainly had a knack for composing fiery codas, full of bold proclamations. The vigor of the codas on this release, even those capping the first movements, is amplified by the fact that Kalliwoda seems intent on concluding with powerful minor key statements emphasized by pounding timpani and orchestral accents (minor key symphonies of other composers often find their way to a major key before the conclusion).
It should also me mentioned that the playing by Das Neue Orchester is outstanding, and it is quite evident through their energetic playing that they are enjoying themselves. As usual, CPO's sound engineering is excellent and their program notes are extremely informative.
I enjoyed this disc, and I think others would too. Kalliwoda's well-crafted compositions are full of intensity and passion, and on a whole, are quite successful, even if some of his themes are rather forgettable. I have not heard if CPO is going to continue its Kalliwoda campaign, but if another Kalliwoda release is issued by these forces, I plan to continue my investigation of this forgotten composer.
An amazing discovery
Artur Soares | Brasil | 09/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an amazing disc. As usual with this band, the Das Neue Orchester plays their heart out, they play with verve and a sense of occasion that is unmatched by Hamburger Hofkapelle in their disc (which is also fine one, btw). The timpani and brass are captured in spetacular sonics that match their marvelous attacks and impressive power.
For anyone who likes this period, who has listened to the works of Ries, Gade, Burgmüller and others, this is a must have CD.
For anyone who likes period-instruments bands, this is a must have CD.
I'm one of the both, and one who has played the incredible finale of the 5th over and over again, drooling after the astounding rythmic drive of both players and music.
Yes, this is most highly recommended."