Christoph Graupner Passion cantata series comes to a glorious close

This release completes CPO’s traversal of Christoph Graupner 1741 Passion cantatas. For the 18th Century Lutheran church, Passion cantatas were performed throughout the Sundays in Lent, not just during Holy Week.

The concluding installment is the Cantata for Laetare Sunday (the fourth Sunday in Lent). The libretti focus on the wickedness of those who judged and condemned Jesus.

Graupner subtly illustrates the words. There’s a solo for a very dark-sounding oboe d’amore, and some highly chromatic obbligatos for solo violin.

The chorales are also somewhat muted, although still full of Graupner’s skillful voice-leading.

Perhaps as a way to change the mood, the release also includes thirteen chorals from various passion cantatas, from 1713-1751. These are beautiful works and beautifully performed.

Ex Tempore sings with clear, pure tones. Their ensemble sound is warm and full. The Mannheimer Hofkapelle also has a rich, full sound, despite consisting of just six performers.

Graupner was a friend and colleague of J. S. Bach. Some could argue that Graupner’s music isn’t quite at the same level. But after hearing all four volumes in this series, I can’t quite agree. Graupner’s music is full of imagination, variety, and spiritual expression.

An excellent series, and one I recommend to any lover of Baroque sacred choral music (or choral music in general, for that matter).

Christoph Graupner: Das Leiden Jesu
Passion Cantatas IV
Ex Tempore; Mannheimer Hofkapelle; Florian Heyerick, director
CPO 555 348-2

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