Saturday, April 29, 2023, Worcester Historical Museum
Sunday, April 30, 2023, Old South Church, Boston, and Online

Quartet in G Minor for strings and continuo, GWV 724        Christoph Graupner (1683-1760)
     [Without tempo marking] • Allegro • [Without tempo marking] • Presto

Quartet in D Minor for flute, violin, viola, and continuo, TWV43:d2         Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
     Adagio • Allegro • Adagio • Allegro

Sonata à Quattro in G Major, FaWV N:G1         Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758
     Andante • Allegro • Affetuoso • Allegro )

Trio in B Minor for flute, violin, and continuo, GWV 219         Graupner
     Allegro • Largo • Allegro

Chaconne in A Major for strings and continuo        Ernest Louis, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (1688-1758)

Sonata in G Major for flute, obbligato harpsichord, and continuo, GWV 708         Graupner
     Moderato • Adagio • Allegro

Concerto in D Major for flute, strings, and continuo, GWV 310         Graupner
     Vivace • Largo e giusto • Allegro


Suzanne Stumpf, traverso
Sarah Darling and Jesse Irons, violins
Marcia Cassidy, viola; Daniel Ryan, cello
Michael Sponseller, harpsichord

Program Notes

This program focuses on extraordinary chamber music works by the German Baroque composer Christoph Graupner, along with selections by his close associates Johann Friedrich Fasch, Georg Philipp Telemann, and his Darmstadt patron Count Ernest Louis. After his early musical training at the Thomasschule in Leipzig and an appointment at the Hamburg Opera where he collaborated with Reinhard Keiser, Graupner spent the majority of his long career as Kapellmeister at the Darmstadt court. There, he wrote over 2,000 compositions. Although in his time he was as respected as his German contemporaries Bach, Telemann, and Handel, his music was largely forgotten after his death and has only in the past two decades begun to see a revival. Musicians of the Old Post Road has taken great delight in exploring his oeuvre and bringing these rediscovered works to today’s audiences.    
    Although the majority of his surviving works consist of church cantatas, Graupner was a very active composer of instrumental music, as evidenced by hundreds of extant sinfonias, overture-suites, concertos, sonatas, and chamber works. His musical style is quite individualistic and not easily compared to his more well-known contemporaries. While his language of thematic development can rely on sequences of repeated phrases and motifs, his harmonic language can be less sequential, often taking unexpected turns. Another of his characteristic compositional devices is his use of rests which create transparency in the texture, helping guide the listener to follow the primary material.
    An example of this use of rests is found in his Quartet in G Minor, composed in 1721/22. The first movement’s solemn theme is presented in long notes, accompanied by short, articulated notes, allowing the listener to follow this theme as it passes from instrument to instrument. The second movement is a fugal tour de force that shows Graupner’s prowess in counterpoint, while the final movement is a scampering gigue of slightly malevolent character.
    During his early years in Leipzig, Graupner met Georg Philipp Telemann who was then the director of the Collegium Musicum. They formed a friendship that was renewed sometime after 1712 after Graupner’s appointment to the Darmstadt court. His admiration for Telemann’s music is evident from the many Telemann works he notated for performance at Darmstadt. Among them is the Quartet in D Minor heard on this program. Our performance of this work uses a version published in Paris in 1742 as Telemann’s “Fourth Book of Quartets” where the flute is substituted for the first violin.
    Graupner’s strong reputation as a composer attracted many aspiring students to Darmstadt to study with him. Among them was Johann Friedrich Fasch, another of Graupner’s schoolmates at the Leipzig Thomasschule, who received complimentary lessons from Graupner in 1714. Fasch’s career closely parallels that of Graupner; he found long-term employment at the court of Anhalt-Zerbst where he composed copious amounts of sacred and secular works. Fasch’s Sonata à Quattro in G Major survives in a manuscript from Darmstadt dated around 1740, with a cover page in Graupner’s hand. This lively work is scored for flauto traverso and two violettas (violas) or flutes a bec (recorders) with continuo, where in the source the words “flutes a bec” have been crossed out.
    Graupner’s patron, Ernest Louis, the Landgrave (Count) of Hesse-Darmstadt, received an extensive musical education, studying with W.C. Briegel (Graupner’s immediate predecessor) and receiving lute lessons from J.V. Strobel. His extensive travels to European courts exposed him to the music of Lully, Keiser, Handel, and Graupner, whom he appointed as his Kapellmeister in 1709. Ernest Louis’s major surviving work is a collection of twelve suites and symphonies published in 1718. The Chaconne on this program is taken from the first suite and shows the influence of the French style.
    The remaining Graupner works on this program each possess marks of his unique creativity. His Sonata in G Major (c. 1741) is for the somewhat unusual combination of obbligato harpsichord, flute, and basso continuo. Although Telemann also wrote works for obbligato harpsichord, treble instrument, and continuo, Graupner’s trio makes much fuller use of the harpsichord texture, with rich arpeggios in the first and third movements covering nearly the entire range of the instrument. All three movements possess quick changes of affect and mood that seem to foreshadow the Empfindsamer Stil (“sensitive style”), a concept that would only arise years later. The second movement is particularly striking with its melodic motifs and harmonic textures that create a somewhat angst-filled tension, moving later into a  suspense-filled, dreamy episode.
    In both the Trio in B Minor (c. 1744) and the Flute Concerto in D Major (c. 1732), Graupner’s very specific ideas for the use of the flute are apparent: although the flute participates very little in the main thematic material in the first movement of the trio and last movement of the concerto, the instrument’s role in conversational banter seems to lead the discussion among the instruments. In the trio, this is accomplished by a pervasive two-note, almost “cuckoo-like” gesture, while in the concerto finale, the flute is continually given new and teasing material to “change the subject.” Graupner also has a penchant for assigning a throbbing motif of repeated notes to the instrument, using that device to build tension or excitement.  

                       —Suzanne Stumpf and Daniel Ryan


Graupner - Quartet in G Minor
Graupner - Trio Sonata in b minor
Graupner - Sonata for flute, obbligato harpsichord and bc