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Joseph Martin KRAUS (1756-1792)
Sinfonia per la Chiesa in D, VB 146 (Riksdagssymfon) 1789 [7:37]
Symphony in F, VB 145 ca. 1787 [21:33]
Symphony in D, VB 143 ca. 1783 [18:05]
Symphony in E flat, VB 144 ca. 1784 [4:59] (alternative slow movement, full symphony released on Naxos 8.553734)
Riksdagsmarsch 1789 [6:29]
Swedish Chamber Orchestra/Petter Sundkvist
Recorded 24-26 May 2000 at the Concert Hall Orebro. DDD,
Complete Symphonies, vol. 4
NAXOS 8.555305 [58:44]


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Joseph Martin Kraus was born and educated in Germany but was to find his fame in Sweden at the court of Gustav III, who financed the bulk of his professional career. An advocate of the Sturm und Drang literary movement, Kraus authored one of the only theoretical treatises on the adaptation of the philosophy to music. Fourteen symphonies survive from what available evidence indicates was a much larger body of work. He also composed several concertos, dramatic works, chamber music as well as a book of poetry and a tragedy.

Naxos, in their series of recordings of symphonies from the eighteenth century now offer volume four in their coverage of Krausís oeuvre. These discs are welcome additions to the catalog. Through their exploration of the works of the younger Bachs, Stamitz, Dittersdorf, Kraus and others, Naxos have treated us to a delicious menu of fine music that was, thankfully, not composed by Haydn or Mozart. For years I imagined that there were splendid classical symphonies out there by other composers, and now we have them served up on little silver platters for the price of a burger and fries.

There is little need to give a blow-by-blow description of these works. They are charming and elegant and utilize the typical classical period orchestration of a string compliment with flute, oboe, bassoon, with horns added for a very nice flavor indeed. One could call their melodic structure "typical of the time." Nothing jumps out as being particularly revolutionary or ground breaking, but what is here is some lively, pleasant music, and a great alternative to the tried and true.

Petter Sundkvist leads well-paced performances, and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra plays with panache. One could wish for somewhat better intonation from the winds once in a while, particularly from the horns. This is a minor quibble, though as on the whole, this is playing of the first order.

Excellent sound and a first-rate set of notes, Naxos continues to prove itself as a leader in the production of serious music. Highly recommended to lovers of classical period music.

Kevin Sutton

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