Concerto Köln

Joseph Martin Kraus: Symphonies

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Werner Ehrhardt and Concerto Köln's recordings of the symphonies of Joseph Martin Kraus, originally released as two separate discs on the Capriccio label in the early '90s, helped lead the charge for the reintegration of Kraus into the classical canon. By 2009, when these Concerto Köln are being reintroduced on the Phoenix Edition label as a single, two-disc set, Kraus has become one of the most frequently recorded late eighteenth century composers whose name isn't Haydn, Beethoven, or Mozart. While some of these performances are not as snappy and alert as those for Naxos by Petter Sundkvist and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, they still pack a punch. Ehrhardt's reading of the Sinfonia da chiesa is superb as he grasps its near Brucknerian sense of architectonics and his Symphonie funèbre is appropriately grim, hushed, restrained, and patient. Both of these are on the first disc of the set, and it's still true, as when these were single Capriccio issues, that the second disc (now reordered as first) is a little better than the other one. The early digital recordings are still fine, though a bit warmer than is the standard for Kraus, though that's not a bad thing at all. The final factor on the Phoenix Edition reissue -- and this may well be the determinant one for many consumers -- is that the two discs are being sold for the price of one; while these do not constitute all of Kraus' symphonies, it is a consumer-friendly way to get acquainted with roughly half of Joseph Martin Kraus' symphonic output.

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