Kraus: Funeral Music For Gustav III

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Kraus' last and greatest works, the Symphonie funebre and Funeral Cantata for Gustav III, are fully able to stand with the best works in the forms of the period, as great as the late symphonies of Haydn and Mozart and, yes, even as great as the Requiem of Mozart. Written under the overwhelming personal and national tragedy of the assassination of the King of Sweden then at the peak of its cultural and national greatness, Kraus' funeral music is numb with shock and wild with grief, but always completely controlled, masterfully balanced, and profoundly moving. If there are only two works you ever listen to by Kraus, let them be these two works.

And if you ever listen to one recording of the works, let it be this 1987 recording by Stefan Parkman directing the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble on Musica Sveciae. The performances are all superbly polished, deeply dedicated, and wholly compelling. The sound is lucid and compassionate. The accompanying booklet has 23 pages of text and seven pages of musical examples. The whole package is a virtually perfect embodiment of the highest ideals of recorded music and should be heard by anyone who loves great music.