Christoph Graupner (1683-1760) was a contemporary of Bach, Telemann, and Handel. And he was as highly regarded as his contemporaries. When Telemann turned down the Leipzig Cantorate position in 1723, Graupner was offered the job. When he was forced to decline, settled on their third choice -- Johann Sebastian Bach.
Originally, musical settings of the Passion (the suffering of Christ) were presented during Holy Week. They usually took the form of large-scale oratorios.
Lutheran musical tradition expanded settings of the Passion into Lent. These Passion cantatas were shorter, but more numerous. There were ten Sundays in Lent -- each requiring a different cantata. The three cantatas in this release all come from a cycle Graupner composed in 1741.
Graupner, like Bach, illustrated his texts subtly through music. The cantata Erzittre, toll und freche Welt, (Tremble, mad and impudent world,), opens with a hesitant and trembling ritornello. The aria Menschenfreund, ach welch Verlangen trägst du doch nach meinem Heil? (What yearning is this?) has a rising melody that always turns down just before reaching resolution.
These are just two of many examples. To fully appreciate Gaupner's artistry, I recommend following along with the printed text as the music plays.
Ex Tempore and the Barockorchester Mannheimer Hofkapelle perform admirably directed by Florian Heyerick. And no wonder -- Heyerick is one of the leading authorities on Graupner's music.
This is also one of the best-recorded early music releases I've heard in a while. The ensemble has a clean, transparent sound. The soloists sound natural with full, unforced tones.
Christoph Graupner: Das Leiden Jesu
Passion Cantatas I (1741)
Solistenensemble Ex Tempore
Barockorchester Mannheimer Hofkapelle
CPO 555 071–2