The present work belongs to the category of Sinfonia da camera as described both by Johann Mattheson and in Johann Adolph Scheibe's Der Criticus Musicus published in Hamburg in 1739. This subgenre was meant to be performed particularly in intimate settings, such as private court chamber concerts, with as few as one musician on a part.While no evidence exists of this sort of venue at the Swedish court during the reign of Gustav III, the existence of two such works by Kraus, this symphony and one in C# minor, indicates that, for at least a short period of time, the composer wrote pieces of this type.
The autograph for the work has not survived, but the sole surviving copy, a score compiled by Kraus biographer Fredrik Silverstolpe, is dated Stockholm, 1781. In June of that year, Kraus was appointed as Deputy Kapellmstare following the successful trial performance of his opera Proserpin. This position established his future with the Swedish court, while simultaneously offering him more opportunities to write music for a variety of venues, from the large opera house to the more private court functions. In October, he reported in a letter to his parents that he had just returned from the Summer palace at Drottningholm, where he had undertaken his first tour of official duty. Since many members of the musical establishment often accompanied the King on his seasonal migrations in order to perform mainly French operas comiques at the well-appointed court theatres, it is likely that the symphony was crafted between June and October for performance there. If the autograph for the companion piece written most likely the following year is assumed to be similar, then it is possible that Kraus set the piece as a series of individual parts, a habit that he had acquired in Mannheim during his earliest years.
There are several unusual characteristics of this three movement Italianate symphony. It begins with a slow introduction in the parallel minor, complete with suspensive figures that are highly dramatic. The orchestration, with separate cello and contrabass parts, is strikingly modern for the age. The slow movement has a harmonically ambiguous opening, with the principal key, G major, not being reached until the tenth bar. It is also unusual structurally, being a short rondo form with highly chromatic episodes. The mancando in the final episode underscores the dramatic tension of the work. The vivacious finale is characteristic of a stylized hunt.
In the absence of both the autograph score and an authentic set of parts, the edition presents as faithfully as possible the intentions of the composer as transmitted in Silverstolpe's score. The style and notation of articulation and dynamic markings have been standardised throughout and, where missing from the source, markings have been reconstructed from parallel passages. These are indicated by the use of dotted slurs or brackets where appropriate. Like most eighteenth-century sources, the present manuscript is at times inconsistent in its notation of appoggiature; these too have been standardised to minimise confusion. Obvious wrong notes have been corrected without comment; editorial emendations with no authority from the source are placed within brackets.
Bertil van Boer