Graupner Die Sieben Worte Jesu am Kreuz

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Analekta
ALBUM TITLE: Graupner Die Sieben Worte Jesu am Kreuz
WORKS: Die Sieben Worte Jesu am Kreuz
PERFORMER: Ingrid Schmithüsen (soprano), Claudine Ledoux (mezzo-soprano), Nils Brown (tenor), normand Richard (bass); Les idées heaureuses/Geneviève Soly


The last words spoken by Christ on the Cross have inspired several composers, notably Haydn and Schütz. Christoph Graupner’s 1743 cantata cycle on these words is profoundly meditative, yet this recording by Les idées heureuses and Geneviève Soly is the work’s first. Soly has recorded more than ten CDs of the Darmstadt Kapellmeister’s instrumental and vocal music and she, more than anybody, has illuminated our picture of this gifted musician, who was once preferred to JS Bach for the Leipzig Kantorship.

Die Sieben Worte Jesu am Kreuz is not so much a dramatic treatment of its texts as a meditation upon them. Within a pattern of dictum, recitative, aria and chorale, however, there are many passages of dramatic declamation of a kind familiarised through Bach’s Cantatas. Graupner’s style at this point in his life is generally more susceptible to changing taste and trends than that of his Leipzig contemporary and Soly remarks in the CD booklet upon hints of the incipient north and central German sensitive style, or Empfindsamkeit, in his music.

Almost all the arias are allotted to tenor and bass voices, exceptions being an extended soprano aria with tenor and bass chalumeaux meditating on the agony of the dying Saviour (Cantata VII) and two alto-tenor duets (Cantata III/VI). It’s all sung and played with stylish commitment and intimate expressive warmth by these accomplished musicians. A delight and a revelation, notwithstanding one or two weak moments.


Nicholas Anderson