Cappella Academica Frankfurt

Johann Gottlieb Graun, Carl Heinrich Graun: Concerti

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The booklet notes to this release from Germany's CPO label go into quite a bit of detail about the uncertain authorship of these concertos from mid-18th century Germany, and the album may be of most interest to those specializing in the ways the Italian concerto made its way into Germany and evolved there. It turns out that most of the manuscripts that preserved them indicate the composer simply as "Graun," with no indication of which of the two brothers, Johann Gottlieb Graun or Carl Heinrich Graun, was the actual writer (and they might even have collaborated). One work, the Bassoon Concerto in F major (tracks 7-9), is argued by director Michael Schneider to be by Christoph Graupner, not either of the Grauns; its manuscript simply says "Grau." For the average listener, this is a pleasant collection of unfamiliar concertos for various instruments. The most interesting is doubtless the Concerto for violin, viola, strings, and continuo in C minor (tracks 4-6), here definitely ascribed to Johann Gottlieb Graun. With its spacious outer movements and solo parts consisting more of figuration than melody, the work feels like an ancestor of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major, K. 364; it's fully of the Classical era. There is also a three-movement symphony, with continuo, by the same brother, closely following Italian models by Giovanni Battista Sammartini. The bassoon concerto, on the other hand, is closer to Baroque styles, and the rest of the music lies somewhere in between. The concertos are idiomatically written for the soloists including a very late appearance for the recorder, and they're enjoyable, although nowhere profound. Although only a continuo bassoon is listed (quite effective in the more stylistically advanced pieces), some of the music also has a harpsichord continuo. Recommended for fans of the early Classical style.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Symphony for strings & B.c. in B flat major (Mennicke 83, Henzel A:12:27)
1 2:40
2 2:47
3 2:23
Concerto for violin, viola strings & B.c. in C minor (Willer 116, Henzel A:13:3)
4 9:26
5 7:24
6 8:03
Concerto for bassoon, strings & B.c. in F major (Willer 147, Henzel Cv 13:125)
7 4:00
8 2:09
9 3:48
Concerto for recorder, violin, strings & B.c. in C major (Willer 3, Henzel Cv 13:96)
10 2:34
11 3:57
12 2:51
Concerto for transverse flute, 2 violins & B.c. in E minor (sollistisch) (Willer 53, Henzel D:13:171
13 5:21
14 2:37
15 2:48
blue highlight denotes track pick