Montreal-born Natalie Michaud is well-known in America as recorder player and teacher. Several grants from the Canada Council enabled her to study at the Royal Music Conservatory in The Hague, after [...]
They spoke about it
Graupner’s Religious Music
Graupner began composing cantatas for the court chateau’s church upon his arrival in Darmstadt. The total number of cantatas by Graupner, preserved primarily in handwritten copies in Darmstadt, is 1418.
The cantata Ach Gott und Herr (1711) is impressive. The opening chorale is one of the only examples of this type of composition by Graupner in which the chorale melody is given to an obbligato instrument (originally an oboe, replaced by a recorder on this recording). The counterpoint assigned to the first violin is insistent but serene, mirroring the text exploring the theme of the heaviness of sin. In the second part of the piece, the chorale melody passes to the soprano voice and the obbligato instrument takes over the counterpoint given to the violin at the beginning of the piece. In the accompanied recitative that follows, interspersed with secco passages, the soprano repeats the haunting “O Gott, o Gott, was hab ich doch getan” three times, lending a dramatic character to this piece. In the following aria, “Seufzt und Weint,” the oboe melody (played here on the recorder) is poignant, while the two violins and the viola punctuate the entire piece with a continuous eighth-note rhythm. The final aria, “Stelle dich zufrieden,” preceded by a short secco recitative, is reminiscent of the work of Keiser and Handel.
The Chamber Concertos
Fifty concertos have been preserved at Darmstadt in the codex Mus. ms. 411, including 44 in Graupner‘s own handwriting. These concertos, unknown outside the performances given at the court of Darmstadt, adhere to the formal model of the Vivaldian tradition. The bodies of the grosso and the concertino differ both in function (alternation of ritornellos and episodes) and in musical and thematic substance. Although characterized by an effort at simplicity which anticipates the gallant and preclassical styles, Graupner’s style nevertheless preserves a distinctly German flavour in many ways. For example, certain movements, such as the third movement of the Recorder Concerto (GWV323), are entirely contrapuntal. Moreover, Graupner breaks from the Italian style with his non-use of instrumental virtuosity in solo parts and frequent use of instruments little associated with the Italian style. The Bassoon Concerto (GWV 340), recorded here for the first time as it appears in the autograph version, is in B flat major, a pastoral key rarely employed by Graupner. The theme of the first movement is of a rare elegance, and employs elements of French ornamentation.
The Chamber Music
The corpus of Graupner‘s chamber music preserved at the Darmstadt library consists of 37 works. The works recorded here, which adopt the sonata da chiesa form (four movements of alternating slow and fast tempos), illustrate the symbiosis frequently employed by Graupner between the church sonata form and the suite composed of dance movements.
Between 1707 and 1719, Graupner wrote eight operas for the opera houses of Hamburg and Darmstadt. Only the complete music of three of his operas has survived until today. Indeed, it was as an opera composer that he was to achieve his first success, at the age of 25. He would show himself to be possessed of a great sensitivity for portraying dramatic characters. To illustrate his gifts for theatrical music, we have included in this recording excerpts from the opera “Dido, Königin von Carthago,” composed in 1707.
© Geneviève Soly
Translation : Marc Hyland