The Strad Issue: January 2008
Musicians: Takako Nishizaki (violin) New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Uwe Grodd (conductor)
Composer: Kraus

The only surviving concertante work of Joseph Kraus (1756–92), the Violin Concerto in C major (1777), is substantial in both length and content. It incorporates moments of technical brilliance and displays influences from Mannheim, where Kraus learnt his trade.

Takako Nishizaki makes a persuasive case for it with solo playing of Classical poise and tonal purity. More might have been made of Kraus’s prescribed dynamic contrasts, especially in the first movement, but Nishizaki shows a natural, supple response to the line and phrase in the dramatic central Adagio, revelling in its soaring melodies and moments of almost recitative-like freedom. She plays the minuet-like rondo finale with an attractive, chimerical lightness, coming especially to the fore in its two expansive episodes.

Uwe Grodd and his forces support in a traditional but uninflated style and give powerful accounts of music from Kraus’s Olympie and Azire. These world-premiere recordings are clean with fresh string-tone and well-defined bass.