Michael Hix adds to Graupner’s Catalog
Three of the four cantatas receive their world recording premiers with this release. With some composers, that would be a significant addition to their recorded catalog. But Christoph Graupner was incredibly prolific. About 2,000 of his works survive, a little over 1,400 of them sacred cantatas.
As welcome as these recordings are, they only add a fraction to Graupner’s recorded repertoire.
Baritone Michael Hix presents four cantatas featuring the bass voice. Accompanying him is a small ensemble — two violins, viola, cello, and harpsichord. These are intimate performances, and they work well.
Hix sings in a clear, straightforward manner. These are sacred cantatas. So the excessive ornamentation common to 18th Century operas was discouraged. Hix focuses on the texts and conveys their meaning through his expressive singing.
The earliest cantata is Mein Herz soll nach des Höchsten Willen (My heart shall be serene in your highest will) GWV 1113/13. It was written in 1713. The latest is Halte an, am Glaubenstreit (You noble jewel of younger heights) GWV 1121/22, composed in 1722.
Graupner worked at the court of Hesse-Darmstadt. During this period finances were unsettled. Many court musicians were dismissed (the remaining, including Graupner, were simply not paid). These stripped-down cantatas show how resourceful Graupner could be with, well, limited resources.