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Johann Gottlieb Graun: Concertos For Strings / Korol, Moderntimes Ensemble


Release Date: 11/10/2009 
Label:  Challenge   Catalog #: 72317   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja KarolPiroska Batori
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A fine production which sheds light on a composer whose violin concertos need to be further explored.

The Graun brothers, Carl Heinrich and Johann Gottlieb are important representatives of the generation of composers between the baroque and classical eras. Johann Gottlieb attended the Kreuzschule in Dresden and later studied at Leipzig University. He received lessons on the violin from the then most prominent violinist in Germany, Johann Georg Pisendel. He also travelled to Italy, where he became acquainted with Giuseppe Tartini. Back home he was appointed concertmaster of the orchestra of the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick, while Carl Heinrich secured the position of Kapellmeister. Graun held this position until his
Read more death. He was also active as a violin teacher; among his pupils were Franz Benda - from 1733 onwards also a member of Frederick's orchestra - and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.

Graun composed many concertos, mostly for violin, which were to be played by himself and reflect his own skills as a violin virtuoso. Burney reports that he was greatly admired as a composer who combined pleasant melodies with counterpoint and was generally considered "one of the greatest violinists of his day".

The concertos on these two discs show that he gradually moved away from counterpoint. The Concerto in c minor is the earliest piece in this set and was written in 1730 or even earlier. Particularly beautiful is the largo in which the violin moves over a tutti which is dominated by a motif of three notes. Although the scoring includes two oboes they have no independent parts but play colla parte with the violins.

That is also the case in the Concerto for two violins in G. The scoring includes two parts for horns, and these are independent and play a noticeable role in the fast movements, but are silent in the adagio. This movement is dominated by Seufzer and descending figures, both in the solo parts and in the tutti.

Graun's acquaintance with Giuseppe Tartini has had a strong influence on his compositional style. The Italian master didn't avoid virtuosity, but gave priority to expression. That is also the main feature of Graun's concertos, and it is no coincidence that in two concertos the slow movements are the longest. In the Concerto in F the second movement, mesto, is almost twice as long as the fast movements. That is different in the Concerto for viola in E flat. It is one of only two concertos for this instrument which are known from Graun. It is a particularly beautiful work, with a magnificent cantabile solo part in the middle movement, with the character indication 'adagio, un poco andante'.

The only piece which is not by Graun is the Concerto in A, which is attributed to Markus Heinrich Grauel. He is an almost completely unknown quantity, and has no entry in New Grove. The concerto is to be found in the archive of the Berlin Singakademie, and it says 'del Sigr. Grauel'. The man to which it is attributed was cellist in the court orchestra in Berlin from 1763. Considering his style he is thought to have been a pupil of Graun. It is less virtuosic but quite beautiful. The first movement is dominated by drum basses, a feature of many compositions from the mid-18th century.

Ilia Korol and Piroska Batori give excellent performances of the solo parts. The dialogue between the two violins is very well worked out and there is a good balance between the two violins. The viola concerto is definitely one of the highlights of this set, and the viola is brilliantly played by Ilia Korol. The horn parts are impressively executed by Oliver Kersken and Stefan Oetter, and also well recorded as they are clearly audible.

In short, this is a very fine production which sheds light on the oeuvre of a composer whose violin concertos need to be further explored.

-- Johan van Veen, MusicWeb International
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for strings in C minor, GraunWV C:XIII:68: Allegro by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century; Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 0 Secs. 
2.
Concerto for strings in C minor, GraunWV C:XIII:68: Largo by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century; Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 46 Secs. 
3.
Concerto for strings in G major, GraunWV C:XIII:84: Allegro by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century; Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 7 Secs. 
4.
Concerto for strings in G major, GraunWV C:XIII:84: Adagio by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin), Piroska Batori (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century; Germany 
Length: 8 Minutes 9 Secs. 
5.
Concerto for strings in G major, GraunWV C:XIII:84: Allegro molto e con spirito by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin), Piroska Batori (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century; Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 10 Secs. 
6.
Concerto for strings in A major: Allegretto by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 48 Secs. 
7.
Concerto for strings in A major: Adagio by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 51 Secs. 
8.
Concerto for strings in A major: Allegro by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 56 Secs. 
9.
Concerto for strings in F major, GraunWV Av:XIII:31: Allegro by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Piroska Batori (Violin), Ilja Karol (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Length: 5 Minutes 46 Secs. 
10.
Concerto for strings in F major, GraunWV Av:XIII:31: Mesto by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin), Piroska Batori (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Length: 9 Minutes 57 Secs. 
11.
Concerto for strings in E flat major, GraunWV Cv:XIII:116: Allegro by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Length: 5 Minutes 52 Secs. 
12.
Concerto for strings in E flat major, GraunWV Cv:XIII:116: Adagio, un poco Andante by Johann Gottlieb Graun
Performer:  Ilja Karol (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moderntimes_1800
Period: Baroque 
Length: 5 Minutes 42 Secs. 

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