Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Graupner Renaissance

It seems we are in the middle of a real Graupner renaissance. For many years hardly any attention was paid to his music. It was in the 1980s that Helmut Müller-Brühl recorded some works by Graupner with his Capella Clementina. And over the years some more recordings have been released. But he never was a name which regularly appeared in the programmes of chamber music ensembles or baroque orchestras. In recent years his music is put on the map, though, in particular by the German musicologist and keyboard player Siegbert Rampe, who recorded some instrumental music with his ensemble Nova Stravaganza. His colleague Hermann Max has performed some sacred music. And the activities of the Canadian harpsichordist Geneviève Soly have to be mentioned with honour.

Last Tuesday I attended a concert of the Holland Baroque Society and the German recorder player Dorothee Oberlinger. On the programme was music by Telemann and Graupner. This combination makes sense as they were lifelong friends and many of Telemann's orchestral overtures are preserved thanks to copies made at the court in Darmstadt where Graupner was working the most part of his life. Telemann's music is part of the standard repertoire of baroque orchestras nowadays, but even in his oeuvre uncommon pieces can be discovered. But the focus was on Graupner, as he is the great unknown to most people. On my site you will find a review of that concert.

It isn't easy to get a grip on his music. Even after repeated listening to a piece from his pen it is hardly possible to whistle or sing some motifs as one so easy does with music by Telemann or Bach. This is due to the fact that Graupner has a particular musical language which isn't comparable to that of any other composer. And his music also has a kind of mosaic character, consisting of a sequence of short motifs in apparently random order.

One of the works by Graupner which was played during the concert was the Overture for recorder, strings and bc in F. This has also been recorded by Dorothee Oberlinger and her Ensemble 1700, conducted by Reinhard Goebel. A review of this disc will be published on my site in due course. There you will also find some other recent discs with music by Graupner, and if I am not mistaken this is only the beginning of what can be called a Graupner renaissance.

His music deserves it and there is every reason to look forward to more unknown treasures from his large oeuvre.

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