Spohr
Duo in E minor for Violin and Viola, Op.13
Rolla
Duo concertant in C minor for Violin and Viola, Op.4/2
Kalliwoda
Duet in C for Violin and Viola, Op.208/1
Vaughan Jones (violin) & Reiad Chibah (viola)

Recorded 15 April 2008 in MBJ Studio, London
CD No: MANOR HOUSE
MUSIC 001
Duration: 62 minutes
Reviewed: July 2008
Duos for Violin & Viola – Spohr, Rolla & Kalliwoda The reputation of Louis Spohr (1784-1859), once immensely famous as violinist, composer and conductor, now barely subsists. As recently as the fourth edition of Grove (1940) he was accorded more space than Berlioz, but perceptions change. Violinists don’t need a reminder of just how much Spohr wrote for their instrument, including this Duo for violin and viola – a fluent and sophisticated, three-movement piece with the two instruments treated as equal partners. The faultless playing of Vaughan Jones and Reiad Chibah, together with a recording that brings out the subtle timbre of both instruments, makes the best possible case for Spohr’s music in a medium that rarely produces masterpieces.
Born a generation earlier than Spohr, the Italian violinist and composer Alessandro Rolla (1757-1841), briefly the teacher of Paganini, played a part in the introduction of Beethoven’s music into Italy and it is Mozart and early Beethoven that occasionally influence the Duo Concertant recorded here, one of very many duos Rolla wrote for this combination. The first movement, with an extended slow introduction is, at 12 minutes, by far the longest movement on this disc. An Adagio and a sprightly finale complete a work that is simpler and more direct than the Spohr but its Classical roots is nonetheless engaging in this committed performance.
The very name Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda (1801-1866) tends to stick in the memory even if, like Rolla, the music he wrote is completely forgotten. Schumann once referred to him as a “the cheerful, harmonious man, whose later symphonies, with a more laboured foundation, did not reach the height of his first.”
‘Cheerful’, ‘harmonious’ and ‘laboured’ are fairly apt words to describe the Andante moderato of the four-movement duo recorded here. Elsewhere, things are much more engaging – a modest first movement with an Andante introduction; an entertaining, rhythmic scherzo; and a finale marked Allegro risvegliato. This is music from a very prolific composer that has to be taken on a different level. It was presumably intended to entertain with no pretensions, and rounds off this absorbing disc – on which performances and recording are exemplary – on a lighter note.

 

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