01. Trio Sonata in F Major, GWV 210 I. Largo
02. Trio Sonata in F Major, GWV 210 II. Allegro
03. Trio Sonata in F Major, GWV 210 III. Andante
04. Trio Sonata in F Major, GWV 210 IV. Vivace
05. Trio Sonata in C Minor, GWV 203 I. Vivace
06. Trio Sonata in C Minor, GWV 203 II. Largo
07. Trio Sonata in C Minor, GWV 203 III. Allegro
08. Trio Sonata in C Major, GWV 201 I. Largo e giusto
09. Trio Sonata in C Major, GWV 201 II. Allegro
10. Trio Sonata in C Major, GWV 201 III. Largo-Allegro
11. Trio Sonata in D Minor, GWV 207 I. Senz’ acceleranza
12. Trio Sonata in D Minor, GWV 207 II. Largo
13. Trio Sonata in D Minor, GWV 207 III. Allegro ma non presto
14. Trio Sonata in E Major, GWV 208 I. Largo
15. Trio Sonata in E Major, GWV 208 II. Allegro
16. Trio Sonata in E Major, GWV 208 III. Largo
17. Trio Sonata in E Major, GWV 208 IV. Vivace
18. Trio Sonata in B-Flat Major, GWV 217 I. Largo-Vivace
19. Trio Sonata in B-Flat Major, GWV 217 II. Largo e sostenuto
20. Trio Sonata in B-Flat Major, GWV 217 III. Vivace
Ondine and the Finnish Baroque Orchestra have warmed us up to Christoph Graupner with their recording of Orchestral Suites (see review). This might seem a grander project but with an orchestra numbering teens rather than tens of musicians and plenty of intimate chamber-musical moments in those orchestral works these titles go together like peas in a pod.
Particularly distinctive is the sound of the chalumeau in two of these trios, an instrument which has lent its name to the lower range sound of today’s clarinet. As you might expect, this soft and mellifluous sound is perfectly balanced with the gentle partnership of lute and violin, but it is an unusual colour and one which lends a conversational voice to these pieces. The combination with bassoon in GWV 201 is particularly delicious.
Christoph Graupner is associated with a vast number of cantatas as well as a substantial output of orchestral work, keyboard partitas and chamber music, so this programme is only a small sample of the trios. Searching online this was the only recording currently available of such works by this composer, so I have no comparison material, but with the quality of playing on offer here I don’t feel much need to complain about this situation. The booklet notes tell us that Graupner’s manuscripts were long inaccessible due to a legal dispute but that they are now available for study at the library in Darmstadt University, so it seems likely that there will be more previously unknown music from this source, something which is to be welcomed wholeheartedly.
The musicianship in these performances is exemplary, with continuo harpsichord nicely balanced and played with Germanic restraint, the aforementioned winds projecting with character and plenty of rhythmic precision as well as lyrical expressiveness. The same goes for violin and gamba, and the sweet tone of Perta Aminoff’s flute in GWV 207 deserves mention though Graupner’s endless sequences in the first movement of this trio are not his finest moment.
A contemporary of J.S. Bach, Graupner’s music is allied more closely to that of his friend Telemann, and it is fairly clear how his easy and entertaining sounds made him more popular than Bach, dubbed as ‘parochial’ in the booklet notes and more associated with the church organ loft than in the courtly fashions of the day. Today we enjoy Bach’s transcendent creativity more, but there is much to appreciate in Graupner’s melodic inventiveness and sense of fun. GWV 208 has echoes of Vivaldi in its duelling violins, the changes in instrumentation between sonatas make for a perfect and immaculately recorded programme, and each sonata offers its own inner contrasts and moments of joyous surprise.