Graupner as an Instrumental Composer
The Darmstadt Court Orchestra must have represented a very high level of musical performance, and for five decades the court chapel master Christoph Graupner was the absolute ruler in this musical realm. Compared with his more than 1, 400 cantatas, operas, and other vocal works, his instrumental works from his later years account for only a small portion of his oeuvre, but they demonstrate once again that, like his friend Telemann, Graupner was a composer of the late baroque era who always lived in quest of new expressive possibilities. In Graupner’s total of fifteen concertos, the transverse flute is the solo instrument; that is, the violin was not his preferred solo medium. In his formal language he followed models offered by the Italian and German concerto traditions. Overall, the solo instruments in Graupner do not come forward much with passage work; they are often interrupted by ripieno inserts. In his music the tonal element, the musical performance of a group, definitely occupied the foreground – which might also explain his frequent use of several solo instruments. The concertos presented here, composed in 1736-37 and 1742, were used either as table music pieces or for concert events. They are compositions for small ensembles; not a one of them functioned as music for performances on special festive occasions. Graupner prescribed the harpsichord as the continuo instrument for the four concertos and the Entrata per la Musica di Tavola.