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Kraus: Complete Symphonies 4

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 19, 2002
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Swedish Chamber Orchestra
  • Conductor: Petter Sundkvist
  • Composer: Joseph Martin Kraus
  • Audio CD (November 19, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • Run Time: 59 minutes
  • ASIN: B00006L3VN
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,851 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 25, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This is the fourth in the Naxos series of recordings of music by Joseph Martin Kraus, sometimes referred to as the 'Swedish Mozart'. He was born the same year as Mozart and died one year after he did. But his music really more resembles that of the middle-period Haydn, the 'Sturm-und-Drang' Haydn. Make no mistake, though, he has his own voice and certainly has plenty of skill; the Sinfonia da Chiesa in D, for instance, includes a masterful fugal sonata-form movement that takes one's breath away.
The two three-movement symphonies on this recording were originally credited to other composers--one to Haydn, one to Giuseppe Gambini. Recent scholarship has proven that they are indeed the work of Kraus. In fact, the notes for this recording are by Bertil van Boer, one of the leading Kraus scholars and the editor of these symphonies.
The performances by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Petter Sundkvist (who also conducts the fine recording of the Stenhammar Second Symphony on Naxos) are wonderful. Naxos is to be commended for making this lovely, inspiriting music available to a wider audience at a budget price.
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Format: Audio CD
If there were any doubt about the issue before, Naxos' Kraus series with Petter Sundkvist and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra should establish the singular importance of this contemporary of Mozart and Haydn. In fact, it's not too much to say that the symphonies Kraus produced in the 1780s are every bit the equals of those by the two great masters of the Classical symphony. Take the Symphony in F, VB145. Like all Kraus's symphonies, it follows the Mannheim rather than the Viennese model, lacking a minuet movement. But at over 21 minutes, it is in no way a small symphony. The first movement, with a majestic slow introduction akin to that of Mozart's Prague Symphony, is by turns dancing (it is in ¾ time) and dramatic, with one of those strange harmonic turns followed by a pause that Haydn loved to trick his public with, as if the movement had briefly lost its way harmonically. The slow movement, though relatively short, is endowed by its gracious, long-breathed melody with the easy elegance the older master achieved in his best slow movements.
Much the same praise could be accorded the Symphony in D major, which was probably intended for performance by Haydn at Esterhaz. Its finest movement is the finale, with a truly distinguished main melody that propels the movement wonderfully.
Also on this disc are the Sinfonia per la Chiesa and Riksdagsmarsch that Kraus wrote for the convening of the Swedish parliament in 1789. Both have a nobility and grandeur that mark them as more than mere occasional music. The accomplished fugal writing in the Sinfonia will probably make you think of the finale of Mozart's Jupiter Symphony or of Beethoven's Consecration of the House Overture. Not too shabby.
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This is a wonderful recording of some great music by a composer who should get far more attention than he does. The symphonies of Kraus are a terrific body of music. They are melodic, colorful, dramatic and very enjoyable. Kraus shows an amazing amount of depth of emotion in his minor key symphonies. For this reason I prefer these to his major key works.

Kraus is not Mozart or Haydn. But his symphonies are good enough to stand alongside those of his better know contemporaries.

This fourth installment of the recoding of the complete symphonies of Kraus, as well as the other three volumes, should be part of any serious collection of classical music.
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Not as great as Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Nonetheless, still worth purchasing. Kraus was one of the greatest composers of his era, clearly only behind Mozart and Haydn. In fact, Haydn has been recorded as saying that Mozart and Kraus were the only two geniuses he had ever met.

Some of the pieces here were designed for meetings of the Swedish parliament, so they sound a bit stuffy and are a bit repetitive. They were perfect for their function, but don't make for great listening. On the other hand, there are a few very fine symphonies here, which ups the rating to four stars.
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Only one of the symphonies contains counterpoint.
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