Thanks to Naxos, the music of Joseph Martin Kraus continues to receive its moment in the sun. Though the early digital age saw several excellent recordings issued by various Swedish labels, Naxos has contributed more to the Kraus discography than all other labels put together. This superb 2007 disc contains three world-premiere recordings by the great German-Swedish near contemporary of Mozart: his Violin Concerto in C major, excerpts from his incidental music for the tragedy Olympie, and five brief dance movements from his early and now lost opera Azire. There is much to enjoy in Azire's graceful ballets and Olympie's Sturm und Drang-tinged Overture, but the real find is the large-scale Violin Concerto. With superlatively wrought virtuoso solo writing, first-rate orchestration, and a strong grasp of his lyrical talents, Kraus shows himself to be as skillful and as individualistic in composing concertos as he was in composing symphonies, string quartets and operas. Violinist Takako Nishizaki proves equal to the work's expansive tunes and up to its virtuoso requirements. Uwe Grodd leads the New Zealand Symphony in a poised and alert accompaniment for Nishizaki in the concerto and delightful readings of the Olympie and Azire music. Recorded in Town Hall, Wellington, New Zealand, in 2006, Naxos' sound is cool, clear, and detailed.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Concerto for violin & orchestra in C, VB 151|
|Olympia, Incidental music, VB 33|
|Azire, ballet music, VB 18|