Kraus: 'Arias and Overtures'

By Wigmore, Richard | Gramophone, April 2015 | Go to article overview

Kraus: 'Arias and Overtures'


Wigmore, Richard, Gramophone


Kraus 'Arias and Overtures' Ch'io mai vi possa, VB59. Du i hvars oskuldsfulla blick, VB30. Du temps, qui detruit tout, VB58. Hor mina omma suckar klaga, VB26. Ma tu tremi, VB63. Parvum quando cerno Deum, VB5. Sentimi, non partir! ... Al mio bene, VB55. Overtures--Afventyraren, VB32; Konung Gustav III Begrafnings-kantat, VB42; Proserpin, VB19; Zum Geburtstage des Konigs Gustav III, VB41 Monica Groop mez Helsinki Baroque Orchestra / Aapo Hakkinen Naxos [B] 8 572865 (63' * DDD)

'That man has a noble style, the like of which I have found in no one else,' remarked Gluck of Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-92), Mannheim-trained but active for most of his career in Stockholm. Gluck is indeed a dominant influence in these assorted overtures and arias, though Kraus's colourful orchestration, vividly delineated by the Helsinki period band, owes more to his Mannheim experiences.

Kraus was terminally ill when he composed his last and perhaps most imposing work, the Begrafnings-kantat ('Burial Cantata') for Gustav III, shot at a masked ball. The Overture's mingled hieratic solemnity and poignant lyricism make it all the more frustrating that the complete cantata is still unavailable on disc. The allegros of the Proserpin and Afventyraren overtures compensate in swashbuckling energy for what they lack in memorable themes, while the fine Birthday Overture for Gustav contrasts a limpid--and decidedly Gluckian--minuet tune with thunderous eruptions for full orchestra. …

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