An almost exact contemporary of Mozart, Kraus spent his career in Sweden, where he composed prolifically in all forms, with a focus on Swedish opera. Kraus’s German songs reflect his interest both in the Lied and German poetry of the Enlightenment, particularly the popular work of Matthias Claudius.
A pianist whose work transcended time, Lili Kraus was a Hungarian musician with a love for Viennese classics. Kraus made a career from an early age, performing internationally from the age of 18 and becoming a professor at age 20. She was not only a great solo artist, but was a renowned collaborator.
This is a nearly complete recording of Mozart's solo keyboard music, including an entire disc of small variation sets and the like but omitting the incomplete but fascinating Piano Sonata in F major, K. 533. That work is often completed with the similar-in-spirit Rondo in F major, K. 494, but perhaps that was less settled in 1954, when Lili Kraus made these recordings. It's too bad, because one wonders what her interpretation of K. 533 would have been like – in many of Mozart's sonatas, Kraus creates a sharp differentiation between tuneful music and scalar or arpeggiated passagework, but that highly contrapuntal sonata is in a class by itself and doesn't structurally revolve around that distinction.
This is an interesting addition to the Handel catalogue, a newly reconstructed version of a pasticcio that survives only in part. The work of course recycles music from other (and often rather obscure, like Berenice) Handel operas but interestingly incorporates some departures from the opera seria norm in the inclusion of several choruses - probably, as the notes indicate, an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the English oratorios. The notes also go briefly discuss the surviving text, the need to make editorial choices from other operas when the evidence is conjectural, and the composition of new recitatives for Acts II and III since the originals are lost.
The grandest of Mozart's wind serenades in performances that fully measure up to their wit and profundity. Philippe Herreweghe's attributes as a conductor, perviously revealed in an outstanding series of baroque and classsical choral works, are revealed in these warm and wise period performances, with outstanding playing.– The Guardian