When it came to magnificent and multifaceted musical display, the court of the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt was equal in every way to widely acclaimed centers of musical activity such as Mannheim and Hamburg. The Darmstadt court ensemble must have operated on a high musical level. For five decades the court music director Christoph Graupner was the absolute monarch in
this musical realm. Like Telemann, with whom he was on close personal terms, Graupner was a universal spirit and a most highly original and independent composer, which means that his relative obscurity is very much to be regretted. The release of this master’s orchestral suites and
Christmas cantatas on the cpo label is now followed by this CD’s representative selection of bass cantatas set to texts by Lehms and Lichtenberg and free of baroque overloading. Graupner’s settings likewise avoid extreme figurations or colorations in the vocal part, and he assimilated musical innovations through to the end of his creative career.
In his early cantatas the viola often continues to be set in octaves to the thoroughbass, but later this instrument assumes an independent, obligatory function. In his later cantatas the thoroughbass is no longer a compositional-technical necessity but continues to play its traditional
role. The alternation between da capo arias and recitatives displays a close formal relation to the opera. The insertion of recitative segments in the arias was a special feature of Graupner’s style. Influenced by his opera experience, his recitatives exhibit a very flowing declamation and
sometimes contain ariose passages. Our interpreter, the bass baritone Klaus Mertens, once again confirms, »with his tonally beautiful recital and clear articulation, his outstanding position among German singers in the field of early music« (klassik-heute).