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(Johann) Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760)
Partitas for harpsichord, Vol. 5
Partita in A minor (GWV 150) (c.1720) [12:56]
Partita VI in E major (GWV 106 and 119) (1718 and 1722) [18:01]
Partita in C major (GWV 109 and 126) (c.1720 and 1722) [23:48]
Geneviève Soly (harpsichord)
rec. 21-23 September 2005, Église Saint-Augustin de Mirabel, Quebec.
ANALEKTA AN 2 9118 [55:04]
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Until recently Graupner was little more than a name in books of musical history. Even then, he often appeared only as a kind of footnote to the life of J.S. Bach, as someone who was offered, but didnít take, the post of cantor of the Church of Saint Thomas in Leipzig before Bach was appointed. Only in relatively recent years have we been able to hear much of Graupnerís music, and to realise the considerable quality of much of it.

Twentieth century musical scholarship had a little to say about Graupner from time to time, but much of his music remained unperformed Ė and largely unstudied Ė in a library in Darmstadt, where he worked from 1711 until his death. The revival in Graupnerís fortunes, the very fact that his music is being heard more often, has had much to do with the efforts of the Canadian musicologist and harpsichordist Geneviève Soly. As a soloist, and as leader of the ensemble Les Idées heureuses, she has given concerts of Graupnerís music in North America and Europe. The Canadian label Analekta has issued a series of CDs of Graupnerís music, which have included instrumental and vocal pieces. The present CD is the fifth to be devoted to Graupnerís music for solo harpsichord.

Graupner wrote some forty-one partitas for harpsichord, of which only seven have appeared in modern editions; not all of which are very easily accessible. The shortest of the partitas has four movements, the longest fourteen. Graupnerís music for the harpsichord was not composed as part of his duties and it presumably reflects his own tastes and interests, perhaps his own personality, with a directness not always to be found in other areas of his work. There is a love of the instrument and its traditions which is evident everywhere in these works; a fascinated, and highly accomplished, exploration of the instrumentís possibilities. There are brilliant virtuoso passages; there are relatively simple dances; there is music of delicacy and tenderness, there is music in which the rhythms are fierce and insistent.

Of the music played here, the Partita in A minor is essentially in the French style, with an allemande, a courante, a sarabande and two minuets which are all reflective, even melancholy and mostly on the slow side. The effect is one of great intimacy. The Partita in E major is more sophisticated, more preoccupied with complex harmonic effects. To the dances of the Partita (allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue) Soly has added two movements (a minuet and a gavotte) from another of Graupnerís collections, his Monatliche Clavir Früchte. They have a Ďgalanteí quality which complements the relatively serious pieces of the original Partita. In the Partita in C major, Soly has again added movements from the Monatliche Clavir Früchte to an original Partita. There is some impressive counterpoint in the Praeludium, some delightful melodic invention in the sarabande and four variations on it and some passionate declamation in the loure. The dancing rhythms of the gavottes - which come from the Monatliche Clavir Früchte - are irresistibly infectious.

Throughout Soly is a perfect advocate for this music. She plays with respectful freedom and though scholarly is never dry or dogmatic. She obviously loves the music and gets great pleasure from it Ė a sense of sheer fun is never far away. Without in any way going over the top, she employs a variety of registrations, always aptly and persuasively.

This is very enthusiastically recommended to anyone who loves the harpsichord music of the first half of the eighteenth century. I dare say that those who have already discovered Solyís Graupner will not need much encouragement to seek out this latest volume. Those who havenít yet made the acquaintance of Graupner and his excellent interpreter will find this a good place to start. Analekta complement Solyís vivid playing with an excellent recorded sound, catching beautifully the full range of her instrument, made in 1998 by Hubbard and Broekman and modelled on the work of one of the most important harpsichord builders of Graupnerís own times, Hieronymus Albrecht Hass.

Glyn Pursglove


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