Ariadne Daskalakis, Kölner Akademie, Michael Alexander Willens
cpo 777 692-2
Overtures Nos. 3, 7, 10, Concertinos 1 & 5
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]nce again this month it is hats off to Willens, his excellent Kölner Akademie, Deutschlandfunk, Kunststiftung NRW and – of course – cpo for taking us on another voyage of discovery. Anyone who plays violin will be familiar with Kalliwoda’s name, but other EMR regulars may not be – born in Prague in 1801, by the age of 15 he was already hailed by his teachers as “a superb soloist” with “excellent abilities in composition”. He became a touring virtuoso but a chance stopover in Donaueschingen saw him appointed Kapellmeister. Music-wise, think Spohr and Rode crossed with hints of Gilbert and Sullivan – I do not mean that disparangingly, but rather in the sense of Kalliwoda’s ready facility with melody, in other words, had he been alive today, he would be described as composer of earworms, so catchy are the tunes he writes. The three overtures last under ten minutes (the first one under five, actually!) but they are full of drama – the timpani stroke at the opening of No. 7 (misnumbered in the inside of the booklet, where it appears there are two No. 3s – which is the only reason the stars below are not five across the board), must have startled its original audience. Here, too, there are dark premonitions of Brahms and even Tchaikovsky. The two solo violin works are more substantial and beautifully played by Ariadne Daskalakis, her violin sometimes sounding more like a viola in the lower reaches, but with some exquisite finesse at the other end of the instrument. Compliments to everyone involved in this enterprising project. I’m already looking forward to where Willens & Co. take us next!