Christoph Graupner: Monatliche Clavirfrüchte 1722, vol 3
Review by John Collins

Title: Christoph Graupner: Monatliche Clavirfrüchte 1722. Edited by Jörg Jacobi 2004.
Book III.

Publisher: Edition Baroque eba4027.

Price: 11 Euros

Reviewed by John Collins

Christoph Graupner, 1683-1760, spent most of his working life in Darmstadt where he oversaw the engraving of twelve suites entitled Monatliche Clavirfrüchte… meistenteils für Anfänger, issued singly in 1722, each one representing a specific month of the year. In this volume Jörg Jacobi presents the three suites from July to September, the suites relating to the preceding six months having already been published by Edition Baroque and reviewed in Clavichord International. As with the previous suites, each of the three in this volume contains a Prelude, Allemande and Courante with the addition of several galantarien including Menuets, Gavottes and Airs, suite 7 finishing with a Chaconne. Only suite 8 has a Sarabande and only 8 and 9 have a Gigue, with which the suite concludes. Keys used are: July D major, August D minor and September A major, all pieces within the suite being in the tonic without a change of mode.

Each prelude is in C time, no. 7 being based on a sequentially treated figure, finishing with an Adagio rounded off by a short cadenza leading to a cadence on the dominant. No. 8 has insistent arpeggiated semiquaver passagework against chords that passes between the hands and no. 9 in quaver movement is treated quasi-imitatively before homophonic writing takes over.

The Allemandes are all written in semiquavers, with an effective foray into the tonic minor at the end of each section in no. 9. The Courantes in nos. 7 and 8 are in 3/2 with flowing quavers passing between the hands and that of no. 9 is in ¾ mainly in two voices but with a passage of repeated RH crotchet chords over quavers in the first section, and arpeggios in the second. The Sarabande in no. 8 is again mainly in two voices, with extended semiquaver writing against quavers. The Gigue of this suite is in 6/8 with equal quavers and is treated fugally whilst the Gigue of no. 9 is in 12/8 with dotted rhythms throughout.

In these suites the wide variety of galanterien again adds considerable variety. Each suites contains a Menuet, that of no. 8 being in Da Capo form. Suites 7 and 8 each contain a Gavotte en Rondeau but only suite seven’s is a true Gavotte beginning on the half bar. Suite no. 8 also contains an Air in C time in predominantly crotchet movement with some nice syncopations. No. 9 contains three Airs, the first being en Gavotte with written out slides in the right hand, the second is marked Allegro mà non Presto, with a steady quaver bass supporting two upper voices in the manner of a trio sonata, and the third, the most interesting, is en Loure in 6/4 with several semiquaver scalar passages in the LH. Of note is the LH murky bass passage with pounding octave oscillation towards the end of the piece. The longest and most ambitious movement is the Chaconne that concludes suite no. 8. Far more demanding than the other movements, it contains plenty of extended semiquaver arpeggios against full quaver chords, canzona-like dactyl rhythms and demisemiquaver passages in thirds to make a most satisfying end to this suite. The order of movements as printed in the seventh and ninth suites with a Menuet and Air respectively separating the Allemande and Courante may well point to the original layout being designed to save page turns; the player can determine the order in which he/she plays the movements.

As with the two other volumes, this edition is generally very clearly printed, with just a few bars in the Chaconne requiring some effort to decipher, although with seven systems to the A4 page the font size is small; perhaps it would have been better if a larger size had been used even though the resulting increase in number of pages would have impacted on the price. Only the Chaconne requires a page turn. Ornaments and slurs are clearly marked. The brief introduction covering aspects of Graupner’s life and of these suites is in German only – it includes Mattheson’s warning against playing Graupner’s works from sight because of their difficulty! The volume closes with Mattheson’s notes on Graupner from the former’s Ehren-Pforte of 1740. The pieces printed here are mostly well within the reach of the amateur, comparing well with Fischer’s collections and not as difficult as Mattheson’s, but they do offer technical challenges in a few places. However, their musical content makes them a most welcome addition to the repertoire, suitable for recital use as well as for teaching. It is to be hoped that Jörg Jacobi will soon be issuing the final three suites in this collection.

© John Collins, Nov 2010

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