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Joseph Martin Kraus was one of the most gifted and unusual composers of the 18th century, whose talent for thematic development, colourful orchestration and theatrical flair caused Haydn to proclaim him one of only two 'geniuses' he knew (Mozart being the other one).
The three viola concertos, have been written probably sometime between December of 1777 and 1781, are one of the lost works that have been hiding in plain sight for almost 250 years. All three concertos demonstrate without a doubt both the familiarity of the composer with what appears to be his favourite instrument and a continuation of his explanations of the concerto genre during his early Stockholm years.
These combine a dexterous solo line(s) with the dramatic intimacy of Kraus's orchestration, harmonic, and textural contrasts, resulting in three first-class works that in turn show the height which the 18th century concerto could achieve.