The court of the Landgraves of Hesse-Darmstadt developed a magnificent and richly varied music culture very much standing up to comparison with larger music centers such as Hamburg and Mannheim. The Darmstadt court ensemble must have had considerable musical forces at its command. For five decades the court chapel master Christoph Graupner was the absolute ruler in this musical kingdom. This universal spirit and highly individual and original composer unfortunately receives much too little attention today. Along with the Mannheimer Hofkapelle Baroque Orchestra under the conductor Florian Heyerick and with top soloists, we at cpo have committed ourselves to changing these circumstances. Vol. 1, Das Leiden Jesu, presents recordings of three passion cantatas by Graupner. What we hear is a composer of the late Baroque who (like his friend Telemann) participated in a perennial quest for new expressive options – which brings genuine pleasure! The key to his personal style is found in his delight in experimentation and his incredibly individual instrumentation technique. Graupner fascinates us not so much with compelling »melodies« as with intensive playing with the various tone colors made available to him by the energetic members of the court ensemble and their instruments.