Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda
String Quartet No.2 in A Major, Op.62
Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda (1801-66 Jan Vaclav Kalivoda in the Czech form) is a name virtually unknown today, except perhaps to violinists. However, he was a well-known and highly respected composer, conductor and soloist during his lifetime. Schumann, among others, held a high opinion of his compositions and he is sometimes spoken of as the link between Beethoven and Schumann. He was born in Prague and studied at the conservatory there. After some years of touring as a concert violinist, he chose permanent employment as conductor of the Donaueschingen Orchestra at the court of Prince Karl Egon II. Thereafter, Kalliwoda devoted what free time he had to composition as a means of supplementing his income and was, for the last 30 years of his life, considered a “house composer” by the publisher C.F. Peters who published all but 60 of his nearly 250 works.
In 1831, Peters commissioned three string quartets, specifying that they “...were to be in the beautiful style of Mozart.” String Quartet No.2 in A Major, Op.62 was completed in 1836. The Allegro vivace, which begins the quartet, starts with two powerful chords, portending a dramatic and stormy theme to come. But what follows is a rather sunny and light-hearted mazurka. At times very fast plunging passages dominate, but they are separated by more relaxed episodes where the music is more expansive. The second movement is a short Scherzo, Presto. It begins as a canon between the first violin and cello before the former breaks loose and carries the melody by itself. The trio consists of a very beautiful and lyrical melody given to the first violin and then the viola. Next comes an Adagio, which opens with the cello brooding in its lowest register which leads to a beautiful aria given to the first violin. The finale, Vivace, is an exciting moto perpetuo, which is suddenly interrupted by a lovely but somber, brooding adagio. But then the vivace returns to make a rousing conclusion to this fine work.
Kalliwoda did not try to imitate Mozart but he certainly produced beautiful quartets. We have reprinted the Peter's edition adding rehearsal numbers.