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Chamber Music - Released March 6, 2020 | Pan Classics


Chamber Music - Released September 25, 2015 | Pan Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason

Classical - Released July 5, 2011 | Pan Classics

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber wrote violin music in an experimental style he shared with a few other German and Austrian composers of the late 17th century, oriented toward dramatic surprises, striking effects, and unusual pictorial devices rather than toward sheer difficulty. Quasi-contrapuntal passages and multiple-stopping of the violin are comparatively rare, but rapid runs ending unexpectedly on the seventh scale degree or some other unstable location are common in the 1681 set of sonatas recorded here. The eight individual sonatas in the set consist of dances, variations, and untitled movements with as many as eight short sections in contrasting tempos; it is in these that violinist Gunar Letzbor gets to show his technical chops, using a copy of a period violin. Hearing these pieces back to back, certainly not how they were intended to be performed, is of more interest to Biber enthusiasts than to the general listener, but the best is saved for last: the eighth sonata has an ingeniously written "trio sonata" texture with two violin parts that are playable by a single violinist. Better still is the Sonata "Representativa," with the varying continuo instruments of Ars Antiqua Austria deployed to produce entertaining depictions of a hen, a frog, a cat, a nightingale, and so forth. In its way this is as daring as Biber's Rosary Sonatas, which remains better known than any of the music on this album. Letzbor's performances were originally issued in 1994, which still didn't join an abundance of recordings of this music, making a sensible place to go for those initially attracted to Biber by the Rosary Sonatas. © TiVo