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I am back with the hidden gem of the week. This time, I want you to meet Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-1792).

Kraus, born in Miltenberg, in Franconia, studied both music and the law (parental wish). He left for Stockholm in 1778 to apply for a job  at the court of King Gustav III. After unsuccessful attempts, he became vice-Kapellmeister of the Royal Swedish Opera and director of the Royal Academy of Music in 1781. Then, for about 6 years, he traveled Europe, at the king’s expense, to learn about the theatre. It is during this long journey he met, in Vienna, Christoph Willibald Gluck and Joseph Haydn. He also attended the George Frideric Handel Festival in 1785 in London. In 1787, he came back to Stockholm and became Kapellmeister of the Royal Swedish Opera. His protector, the king, was assassinated in 1792. The same year, Kraus died of tuberculosis.

Kraus was a man of theatre, drama and effects. So I thought to give samples from his operatic production.  Aeneas in Carthage was originally composed in 1781 for the inauguration of  the new opera house in Stockholm (it is a retelling of the Dido and Aeneas story but Kraus took some liberties). However the production paused. During 10 years, he worked on this immense opera (a prologue and 5 acts). It was only first performed in 1799, after Kraus’ death.

As for the samples, they have the mp3 format so you can listen directly to them on box.net (no need to download). I present you the overture and 2 other pieces (Tempest and a march)

Aeneas in Carthage: Overture

Aeneas in Carthage: March of the Numidians

Aeneas in Carthage: Tempest

Aeneas in Carthage, Opera Overtures, Ballet Music and Marches

Patrick Gallois/Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä/ Naxos

For more information

Naxos

Amazon

Online Reviews

Classics Today

MusicWeb International

Sources for this post

Wikipedia

Mozart – Kraus

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From Soliman II, performed in 1788 in Stockholm, the overture. An interesting use of turkish instruments.

From Proserpin, composed in 1780, the overture and the first chorus.

I Wonder…

First, I am sorry for the lack of new entries in a week.

I noticed a very few people downloaded the samples I offered. So I wonder if it is because you don’t like to download, or the file format or the music don’t interest you. I would appreciate your comments the people who visit the blog could be tempted to give a look to those samples.  So, please, drop me a word about it.  I know this  blog has a limited number of visitors but, still, to not download the music – or part of it – is missing a the show.

Regards,

Handelbaroque

On June 13, 1748, George Frideric completed the score of Solomon. This oratorio, in three acts, is unique since each one depicts a fresco. The first act deals with the Dedication of the Temple and Solomon’s happy marriage with the pharaoh’s daughter. The second act, with the two harlots disputing about the parentage of the baby and the judgement from Solomon. And the third with the visit of Queen Sheba and the expression of different emotions in music. According to Handel scholar, Winton Dean, the composer conceived the work as an example of an ideal society and, consequently, as a tribute to british society and King George II.

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Let’s hear some orchestral pieces, at first.

Solomon: Overture (Andante-allegro moderato)

Solomon: Act III: Arrival of the Queen of Sheba

For more information

Atma Classique

Amazon.com

Online reviews

Classics Today

MusicWeb

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From the excellent 1984 Gardiner recording, let’s give a look to the “May no rash intruder” chorus, from the Act I, where Handel depicts the nightingales with nice strings effects.

Solomon: Act I: Chorus “May no rash intruder”

Lyrics

May no rash intruder disturb their soft hours;
To form fragrant pillows, arise, oh ye flow’rs!
Ye zephirs, soft-breathing, their slumbers prolong,
While nightingales lull them to sleep with their song.

Credits

John Eliot Gardiner/English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir/Philips

For more information

Amazon.com

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We could not end this post without the rousing last chorus from the great Reuss/Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin/RIAS Kammerchor recording on Harmonia Mundi.

Solomon: Act III: Chorus “Praise the Lord”

Lyrics

Chorus 1
Praise the Lord with harp and tongue!
Praise Him all ye old and young,
He’s in mercy ever strong.

Chorus 2
Praise the Lord through ev’ry state,
Praise Him early, praise Him late,
God alone is good and great.

Full Chorus
Let the loud Hosannahs rise,
Widely spreading through the skies,
God alone is just and wise.

For more information

Harmonia Mundi

Amazon.com

Online reviews

Classics Today

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Sources for this post

Libretto List

Winton Dean, “Solomon, an oratorio of pageantry and pomp”, notes from the Gardiner/Philips CD.

Some Extra Biber

Well, I bought today Biber’s “8 Sonatae a Violino Solo”, published in 1681. I thought it would justified to post some samples since the production value of that double CD (Harmonia Mundi) is terrific.

I took the samples from the Sonata no II (which is actually one movement in all) and from the Sonata Representativa (program music composed around 1669). The performers, Andrew Maze, Nigel North and John Toll are excellent. Still, not all like Manze playing. Judge by yourself.

Sonata II: Variatio – Finale

Sonata Representativa: The Frog

Sonata Representativa: The Cock and Hen

Sonata Representativa: The Cat (meow!)

Sonata Representativa: The Musketeer’s March (well a fast march!)

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For more information

Harmonia Mundi

Amazon.com

Online reviews

BBC

Classics Today

Friday. It means it is the time for the hidden gem of the week.

For the first entry of that thematic series, I had in mind to put on spotlight Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704). Born in Bohemia, he worked

at the court of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg (the same employer of Leopold and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Michael Haydn) from 1670 to his death. He became Kapellmeister in 1684 and was knighted by the Emperor Leopold I in 1690 (his name changed then for Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber von Bibern). He is known for his contributions to the violin technique and the art of scordatura (mis-tuning of strings).

A great example of scordatura is the Mystery Sonatas set, created around 1676 (but not all were composed at the same time).  The mysteries, or mediations on the life of the Christ and the Virgin Mary are divided into three cycles of five (joyful, sorrowful, glorious). I selected the sonata no 11: The Resurrection, which is part of the “glorious” cycle, is the greatest example of scordatura in the  sonatas series.

http://www.box.net/shared/i1qanorvun

WalterReiter, violin/Ensemble Cordaria/Brilliant Classics

(The CD was first released on SIGNUM CD).

For more Information

Amazon.com

Reviews

http://www.signumrecords.com/catalogue/sigcd021/reviews.htm

I selected too a sample from Biber’s requiem in F Minor, composed around 1692 in Salzburg. Youtube offers a good performance of the Sequence part of the Requiem. The latin text with its english translation is available on Wikipedia:

Paul McCreesh/Gabrieli Consort and Players/Archiv

Sources for this post

http://www.aam.co.uk/features/biberm.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Ignaz_Biber

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dies_Irae

New Ideas

I am thinking to add some new thematic entries on the blog. Here what I see:

Monday: Composer of the Week. Here I intend to present work of a selected composer all along the week.

Wednesday: Saint Cecilia’s Benediction: Instrument of the Week. Each Wednesday, I will try to highlight a specific instrument.

Saint Cecilia's Benediction: Instrument of the Week

Friday: Hidden Gem. This one is self-explanatory. I will put off some dust from an unknown or a minor composer but who deserves a better recognition. It can also be an unknown or underrated work  from a known composer.

I intend too to review some CDs.

So there will be new interesting entries in the future.

On June 9, 1763, Leopold Mozart, deputy Kapellmeister of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, left the town with his son Wolfgang on an european tour who will end in 1766. The trip will lead the father and the son to Munich, Mannheim, The Hague, Paris and London. It is in Britain, in 1764, that the 8 years old boy will compose his first symphony, from which we will listen the first movement (molto allegro). The symphony is written for an orchestra of two horns, two oboes and strings.

The Mozart family on tour by Carmontelle, ca. 1763

Sources for this post

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._1_%28Mozart%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Amadeus_Mozart