Haydn • Kraus

BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral -

Haydn: Sym­phonies – No. 19 in D; No. 80 in D mi­nor; No. 81 in G;

Kraus: Sym­phony in C mi­nor

Basel Cham­ber Orches­tra/

Gio­vanni An­tonini

Al­pha Clas­sics AL­PHA 676 78:25 mins Joseph Martin Krauss was an ex­act Ger­man con­tem­po­rary of Mozart, whom he out­lived by only a year, dy­ing of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in 1792. By then he had risen to mu­sic di­rec­tor of the court of the cul­turelov­ing Swedish King Gus­tav III – whose mur­der at that in­fa­mous masked ball he com­mem­o­rated in fu­neral can­tata. But it was upon the ba­sis of his Sym­phony in C mi­nor of 1783 that Haydn hailed him as ‘a man of ge­nius’. Here the work is recorded to­gether with two of the sym­phonies that Haydn com­posed around the same time, mak­ing up the fifth re­lease of the Haydn Foun­da­tion of Basel and the Al­pha la­bel’s project to record all the sym­phonies plus salient works of other com­posers by the Haydn ter­cente­nary in 2032.

Although both Kraus’s work and Haydn’s Sym­phony No. 80 are touched by the tur­bu­lent spirit of Sturm und Drang, they could hardly be more dif­fer­ent. Where Haydn is eco­nom­i­cal and un­pre­dictably change­able in mood, Kraus’s three move­ments are earnest, sus­tained and fully textured in a style that some­how com­bines post-baroque coun­ter­point with an al­most Beethove­nian drama. Maybe his themes re­main generic, lack­ing Haydn’s abil­ity to in­vent an un­for­get­table idea with a few deft strokes, but the work is well worth get­ting to know.

A pity, then, what with Gio­vanni An­tonini’s hard-driven ap­proach to these scores, the pierc­ing sound of the Basel Cham­ber Orches­tra’s vi­brato-less strings and the basslight am­bi­ence of the record­ing, that the sound of it all has a bit of an edge which some lis­ten­ers may find try­ing. Bayan North­cott PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★

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