That the four main works on this disc have never been recorded before is no reflection on the quality of the music or the composer. Joseph Martin Kraus, the German-born composer-contemporary of Mozart's working in Sweden, was all but forgotten after his death in 1792 and recordings of his works have been few and far between. And his four Italian cantatas on this disc were nearly completely forgotten after the death of the soprano they were written for in 1790. Hearing them for the first time is like hearing almost anything by Kraus for the first time: one's response is to wonder "how could music this gracefully polished, elegantly expressive, and brilliantly composed ever be forgotten?"
On this 2008 Phoenix Edition super audio disc, Kraus' music comes vividly to life in splendid performances by soprano Simone Kermes with L'Arte del mondo led by Werner Ehrhardt. With its fabulous flights of coloratura, Kraus' vocal writing is daunting. But with her virtuosic technique, enormous range, and astounding breath control, Kermes is fully up to Kraus' extraordinary demands. Whether accompanying Kermes in the cantatas or performing alone in the four excerpts from Kraus' Overture and incidental music from Voltaire's Olympia, Ehrhardt and L'Arte del mondo deliver crisp, tight, and spirited performances. Anyone who enjoys Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate, Haydn's Scene di Berenice, or Beethoven's Ah! Perfido! will surely enjoy the music on this disc.