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Classical - Released February 5, 2016 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik

Chamber Music - Released March 6, 2020 | Pan Classics


Chamber Music - Released May 17, 2019 | Accent

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
The 17th-century Bohemian/Austrian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber is best known for his works for solo violin, especially the Mystery Sonatas. However, he also wrote a considerable amount of music for string ensemble, including a set of 12 chamber sonatas subtitled Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum which was first published in Nuremberg in 1683. The title refers to the fact that the music in the sonatas combine sacred and secular styles. In his collection Biber set new standards in the field of string chamber music. In the first part he composes for a five-part string ensemble: 2 violins, 2 violas, violone and basso continuo, a combination that was established at his time as the standard ensemble in Austrian cultural circles. In a richly coloured setting, Biber artfully weaves a polyphonic texture that allows the voices to alternate and come to the fore. In the second part of this collection he dispenses with the five-part arrangement hitherto predominant in Austria, and focuses on augmenting the flexibility of the four individual parts. The present recording of Biber’s twelve chamber sonatas Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum is performed by Harmonie Universelle under its director Florian Deuter. © Accent

Chamber Music - Released March 4, 2014 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Hi-Res Audio

Classical - Released September 10, 2015 | Bayard Musique

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica

Classical - Released August 23, 2019 | Alpha

Just a generation ago, Heinrich von Biber's Rosary (or "Mystery") Sonatas were looked upon as ultra-rare repertoire, the sort of thing a Classical record collector would have to go out of his/her way to obtain on recordings. It appears that by now anyone who plays Baroque violin music to any degree of seriousness has had contact with Biber's sonatas, and there are no less than 20 complete or near complete recordings of Rosary Sonatas available. Make that 21 with Zig Zag Territories' Biber: Les Sonates du Rosaires, featuring violinist Patrick Bismuth with continuo provided by the ensemble La Tempesta. The eight-member La Tempesta provides a thicker continuo texture than is usually reserved for these works, which can be performed as solo violin music. Patrick Bismuth does not favor the thin tone commonly employed by period instrumentalists, nor does he fuss over ornamentation. He plays with a rich, full-bodied, almost Romantic tone, which makes his interpretation closer to that of the first players to record the Rosary Sonatas, like Susanne Lautenbacher. This approach may be a plus or a minus depending on how one likes the Rosary Sonatas served up. However, it should be noted that Bismuth concentrates on the beauty and linearity of Biber's masterwork as opposed to its eccentricity, and this performance never quite catches fire. Likewise, despite the name of the ensemble, La Tempesta is under Bismuth's leadership and never become "tempestuous," preferring to provide a soft-focus backdrop for Bismuth to sail over. The recording, made in the Church of the School of St. Geneviève in Versailles, is good, although at times the organ seems too heavy and one wants it to back off the violin a bit. Zig Zag Territories' Biber: Les Sonates du Rosaires is fully functional as a recording of Biber's Rosary Sonatas and is very nicely packaged. Nevertheless, if one already has a favorite version of this work, say from John Holloway, Romanesca, Gabriela Demeterová, or another artist, the Bismuth is unlikely to unseat it. © TiVo

Chamber Music - Released September 25, 2015 | Pan Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason

Classical - Released January 1, 2004 | Archiv Produktion


Classical - Released January 1, 1991 | Archiv Produktion


Classical - Released June 7, 2011 | harmonia mundi


Classical - Released January 20, 2017 | Accent

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik

Classical - Released April 22, 2008 | Arts Productions Ltd


Classical - Released March 29, 2011 | Dorian

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber's Mystery Sonatas, composed in the 1670s and 1680s, have almost as many interpretations as there are violinists. They're sometimes known as the "Rosary Sonatas," for the "mysteries" involved are the so-called Mysteries of the Rosary, episodes from the life of Christ that furnish material for meditative prayers undertaken with the devotional aid of Rosary prayer beads. Engravings of these episodes appear in Biber's original presentation manuscript of these works (whose cover is missing), and Canadian violinist Julia Wedman, inspired by paintings of the Mysteries of the Rosary she saw in the Aula Academica in Salzburg, emphasizes the sonatas' programmatic detail in her readings. There's no firm evidence that Biber himself was inspired by these paintings, but the idea isn't implausible. Wedman makes two unusual choices in implementing her programmatic idea. The first she shares with Andrew Manze and a few other violinists: instead of switching off among violins as Biber's scordatura or retuning directions become progressively more bizarre, she continues to play the same violin, forcing it into contortions as it approaches Christ's crucifixion and other, well, crucial episodes. This is not the usual approach, but it is persuasive if only because violinists in Biber's time did not possess a rack full of instruments. Wedman's second procedure may be less justifiable historically: she enlists the continuo players in her attempt to make these sonatas into detailed representational works. The same logic that supports her single-violin approach puts the continuo in question: would Biber or other violinists presenting these piece have had the luxury of trading off among gamba, theorbo, archlute, organ, harpsichord, cello, and harp as Wedman's accompanists do here? It's not likely, and it takes the focus off the violin in true virtuoso works. Her realization is never unmusical, however, and it builds nicely to the Crucifixion and Resurrection movements. She has plenty of technical resources to bear on the Passacaglia "The Guardian Angel," which on this and several other recordings is deployed as a finale to the Mystery Sonata cycle. This is an unusually speculative set of Mystery Sonatas, but one that will appeal to those who have come under the work's spell (if that word is permissible here). Notes, partly by Wedman herself, are in English only. © TiVo

Classical - Released November 30, 2015 | ClassicalPirosDigital


Classical - Released November 6, 2020 | Coviello Classics

Hi-Res Booklet
Even in the 17th century critics called it a “forced art”, and indeed, even for many professionals today it is not easy to understand scordatura as an intuitive way of playing the violin. But when composers master the art of retuned strings to perfection, completely new sound experiences are possible. Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber was without doubt one of the greatest in this field, and so his seven sonatas recorded here really do offer “artful vocal harmonies”, as the Latin title promises. In each sonata, Biber prescribes different, sometimes considerably different, retunings – the result is sometimes considerably more, sometimes considerably less tension on the strings, which leads to a completely new tonal differentiation of the apparently so familiar string instruments. The ensemble "Der musikalische Garten"” presents this technically and musically perfect. © Coviello Classics

Classical - Released June 17, 2016 | harmonia mundi


Chamber Music - Released August 1, 1994 | Chandos


Classical - Released August 31, 2010 | Coviello Classics