Friday, 30 September 2016

Graupner - Orchestral Suites - Finnish Baroque Orchestra

Rating: 5/5

A very enjoyable disc

I am rather surprised by how much I like this disc. Often, neglected baroque composers are neglected for a very good reason but while Graupner is certainly no Bach or Handel, he turns out to have written some very enjoyable music.

In his own time, Graupner was generally more highly regarded than Bach, of whom he was a slightly older contemporary. That's a judgement which most certainly wouldn't be shared today, but his music does deserve to be more widely known on this evidence. The music is perhaps more solid and workmanlike than inspired but it is nonetheless very enjoyable. He is slightly reminiscent of Handel in his use of orchestral colour and this gives the music real character, I think, and prevents it from just becoming baroque wallpaper. It's an interesting and rewarding listen – and a good deal of what makes it so is the playing of the musicians here.

The Finnish Baroque Orchestra are excellent, as are the soloists. They really understand what makes this music tick and bring out both the colours of the instruments and the dance rhythms of the different movements. The combination is a delight, and the variety of solo instruments – flute, viola d’amore, chalumeau, baroque horn, and bassoon in various combinations – lends real character to the whole thing.

Beautifully recorded and with full, interesting notes, this is a very good disc all round. If, like me, you were only dimly aware of Graupner, this will bring him much more to the fore, and deservedly so. Very warmly recommended.

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