An almost exact contemporary of George Friedrich Handel, Christoph Graupner (1683-1760) was one of the leading composers of the baroque era. Much of his extensive oeuvre was written to satisfy several commissions from the German nobility, and the works on this third volume of a cycle dedicated to the composer's orchestral works are prime examples of such obligations. When the Darmstadt landgrave got a craving for entertainment in his court, Graupner never failed to oblige, despite the fact that he had to perform his pieces several times per week. With such pressure bearing down on the composer's shoulder, Graupner's compositions were not always lavishly conceived, and very often he was forced to present music for small ensembles.
The Canon in B Flat Major is actually a trio sonata in six movements, and while the two oboes interpret the solo parts with consummate artistry and the finest embellishments, the cello and harpsichord supply the counterpoint and musical foundation. The 7-movement Overture in F Major is a fiery festive piece for recorder, strings and harpsichord from 1740, and this work too has a wind-instrument that plays the concertizing lead role. The two Sonatas are early and late works. The one in G Major precedes the G minor by some 30 years, and while in the former Graupner finely combines the transverse flute and harpsichord, in the latter he returns to the instrumental combination.
Rampe and the quite superb Nova Stravaganza perform this programme with unbridled enthusiasm and pinpoint precision, but the rhythmic vitality and harmonic shadings are consistently highlighted. This is an invaluable addition to the Graupner catalogue on the 250th anniversary of his death.
Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech.