Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential music, excellent recording, 1 Jan 2011
This review is from: Kraus: Olympic Overture; Symphonies (Audio CD)
After a couple of centuries of neglect, Joseph Kraus has become much better known in recent years, and Naxos and BBC Radio 3 are among the forces that we have to thank for this.

These symphonies are stunning works, demonstrating an enthralling tension between inventive exuberance and classical restraint. The modulatory courage of the composer, and his invention are what raise these works high above many of their contemporaries. Indeed, it would be hard, on the basis of the Naxos symphonies, to decide where to place Kraus among the top five classical symphonists. The richness of invention and the glory of the orchestration are stunning. It is hard to avoid dissolving into vacuous attempts to describe what can only be told by listening to the music.

It is interesting to reflect on how creative Haydn became in the wastes of Esterhazy. Kraus, in some senses even more removed from the centres of musical civilization in the small and eccentric court in a rapidly declining northern power, clearly also found much in his own mind and resources, and in his musical solitude reached a level of musical attainment that in another would have needed immersion in the musical world of a wealthy Central European metropolis.

Which brings us to the Naxos recording(s). And of these, one can only say that Kraus is unlikely to be better served by any other forces in the future. This is tight, rich, beautiful playing, well-captured on this recording. The conductor provides fine and sympathetic direction and control, ensuring that the superb musical engines that Kraus has designed are kept running at their optimum throughout their highly varied melodic, harmonic and structural journeys. Naxos have an important treasure in their catalogue in this recording, having clearly matched the finest music with fine musicianship.

The only worthwhile advice is to listen to this music, and to keep it for repeated listening long into the future.
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