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<<  -- 2 --  Roderic Dunnett    BEAUTIFULLY POISED


Despite the Mozartian dates -- Kraus was born in the same year as Mozart, 1756, and died a year after him in 1792, aged 36, having just completed his own funeral music for the assassinated King Gustav III of Sweden, whose court he served as Kapellmeister -- his Mannheim training make him much more a product of the dominant central German early Classicism than his Viennese contemporary. There is, it has to be said, an element of the four-square to some of the movements here -- the C minor's closing adagio, for instance -- which is wonderfully swept away as he introduces a surging cello solo and beautifully poised woodwind chorale, though returns with the slightly stolid fugal conclusion.

Naxos has already included one of Kraus's overtures -- his Olympic Overture -- on their Cannes classical award-winning first disc in this Swedish Kraus series, embracing the fourteen surviving symphonies. The bassoon launched slow-stepping tune heard at the outset of the Overture in D minor heralds a rather lugubrious work, its character wholly suited, however, to its popularity as a sonata (or sinfonia) di chiesa played at Good Friday services -- although the strong 'resurrection' feel of the much more impressive fugue here might seem premature. Like a number of his Baroque forebears, Kraus was a Catholic working within a Lutheran context, and his legal studies at Mainz, Erfurt and Göttingen brought him into contact with a number of leading personalities of the Sturm und Drang movement, literary forerunners of the Romantics. The minor keys that predominate on this disc, together with the constant thrust and drive -- both the opening allegro and the start of the final presto of the E minor, composed like the C sharp minor in 1782, supply good instances -- suggest something of the Goethe of the early love poems and The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Copyright © 18 February 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK







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