Biber: 15 Sonatas based on the Mysteries of the Rosary; Passacaglia for Solo Violin

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COMPOSERS: Biber
LABELS: Winter & Winter
WORKS: 15 Sonatas based on the Mysteries of the Rosary; Passacaglia for Solo Violin
PERFORMER: Affetti Musicali
CATALOGUE NO: 910 029-2
Biber’s reputation as an outstanding musician led the prince-archbishop of Salzburg to poach him from the Count Liechtenstein-Castelcorn in 1670. Six years later, the composer published his Sonatae tam aris quam aulis servientes, paying tribute to the sacred and secular activities of his Salzburg patron. Under Manfredo Kraemer’s leadership, the Rare Fruits Council gives a superb account of this music. The ensemble is deftly controlled throughout and trumpets add a brilliant gloss. Sensitive, lyrical phrasing highlights the expressiveness of the slow movements and the fast movements fizz with infectious verve.

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Biber’s Mystery Sonatas (1678) draw their inspiration from the Rosary’s 15 meditations on the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary, using scordatura (retunings) to create new polyphonic possibilities for the violin. With skilful support from Affetti Musicali, Marianne Rônez exploits the Baroque violin’s capacity for nuance and flamboyance. Rônez illustrates the pervading jubilation in the Five Joyous Mysteries, anguish in the Five Sorrowful Mysteries and triumph in the Five Glorious Mysteries with impressive finesse. The naturally balanced acoustic presents the score’s details with crystal clarity in the Sonatas and aptly focuses on Rônez’s resonant tonal purity in the sparkling final Passacaglia. Nicholas Rast