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Christoph GRAUPNER (1683–1760)
Bassoon Cantatas
Hebet eure Augen auf gen Himmel GWV 1102/40 (Advent II 1740) [25:11]
Jauchzet, ihr Himmel, freue dich, Erde GWV 1105/43 (Christmas Day 1743) [19:50]
Jesu, mein Herr und Gott allein GWV 1109/37 (New Year 1737) [18:42] 
Kehre wieder, du abtrünnige Israel GWV 1125/43 (Palm Sunday 1743) [20:05]
Ach, bleib’ bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ GWV 1129/46 (Easter Monday 1746) [16:37]
Wir werden Ihn sehen GWV 1169/49 (Purification 1749) [18:17]
Sergio Azzolini (bassoon)
Monika Mauch (soprano), Franz Vitzthum (alto), Georg Poplutz (tenor), Dominik Wörner (bass)
Kirchheimer BachConsort/Florian Heyerick
rec. 4-5 January, 2020, Protestantische Kirche Kirchheim/Weinstraße, Germany
Texts and translations included
Reviewed as downloaded from press access
CPO 555353-2 [63:55 + 55:10]

We seem not to have been alone in missing this recording when it was released in the Autumn of 2020; I’m making amends courtesy of a B2B press download in lossless sound.

There’s a good reason why Graupner, and then Telemann, were preferred by the Leipzig council in the first instance for the vacant post of Thomas-kantor, when they eventually had to make do with a nonentity called JS Bach. Graupner had already made such a reputation in Darmstadt that his employer increased his salary and retained his services. From the GWV catalogue numbers listed above, it’s apparent that he even exceeded Bach’s very considerable output, almost equalling that of Telemann, not just with cantata cycles but with instrumental music.

So far, we have scraped only the surface of this considerable output, and CPO have been one of the chief agents in his rediscovery. As far as I’m aware, all but one of the cantatas on this recording are receiving their first, certainly their only current, recording. Only the cantata for Christmas Day, Jauchzet, ihr Himmel, freue dich, Erde GWV 1105/43, has come my way in an alternative recording, as part of a collection of cantatas for the Nativity season (not an Oratorio as stated on the cover) on Ricercar RIC307 – February 2012/2 .

These six cantatas have in common prominent parts for the bassoon to mark the arrival in Darmstadt in 1736 of a virtuoso bassoonist, Johann Christian Klotsch, for whom Graupner also composed a number of bassoon concertos; there are several available performances of some of those, including one recorded by Carus (83.443). Johan van Veen made that a Recording of the Month – review – and, while the CPO cantata recording is not quite in that class, I very much enjoyed hearing it.

The bassoon can be both lugubrious and comic – in Vivaldi (39 concertos) and Mozart (just the one) it sometimes sound more like a buffoon than a bassoon – but it’s Graupner’s genius that it sounds neither of those here, fitting perfectly into the timbre of the music and enhancing the import of the words.

If the music itself is to be a fully worthwhile discovery, it needs to be well interpreted. On the whole it is, though I thought the soloists in the opening exhortation to lift up our eyes, Hebet eure Augen auf gen Himmel, a little slow to get off the mark. That was probably at least in part because I had to turn up the volume quite a way in order to appreciate the performance. After that, I had no complaints.

Florian Heyerick has already recorded Graupner for CPO; Terry Barfoot thought Volume IV of his passion cantatas ‘excellent, … convey[ing] the devotional outlook to perfection’, and the same applies to this recording. If anything, the music is a little more varied here, ranging from Advent to Easter, and the presence of the prominent bassoon part adds an extra touch of interest to the proceedings.

Once I had turned the volume higher, the recording sounded very good, in the best CPO manner, and the notes and general presentation are also all that one expects from this label.

Another very fine opportunity to get to know Graupner’s music.

Brian Wilson

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