Graupner: Keyboard Partitas, Vol. 1

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LABELS: Analekta Fleur de lys
WORKS: Keyboard Partitas, Vol. 1
PERFORMER: Geneviève Soly (harpsichord)
Christoph Graupner, the history books tell, was the man who turned down the post of Kantor at St Thomas, Leipzig, leaving the field open for his own recommendation, one Johann Sebastian Bach, in 1722. Earlier he’d worked at the Hamburg Opera as harpsichordist, playing alongside a young violinist called Handel. But for most of his career he served as Hofkapellmeister at Darmstadt. He held his own music in such low esteem that he left instructions that it should all be destroyed after his death. That, happily, did not happen. There was perhaps too much to dispose of – he composed some 2,000 pieces in all.


This recording is the first of a bold series that aims to cover most, if not all, of Graupner’s keyboard works. These include 40 partitas, only seven of which have ever been published in modern editions. Judging from the three works that the scholar-performer Geneviève Soly plays here with an apposite and stylish elegance – Partita X in A minor, Partita I in C major and an unnumbered example in A major – we have been overlooking a composer of considerable gifts. These partitas, written in a mature French manner, contain more movements than do Bach’s, but on first acquaintance they seem scarcely, if at all, less inventive or resourceful. It’s not simply a matter of skilful, airy elegance either. There’s a special sort of spirit contained within them, exemplified most tellingly, perhaps, in the outstanding Aria and Variations and the closing Chaconne of the A major work. Stephen Pettitt