- Lee Santana (Theorbo)
- Michael Behringer (Harpsichord)
- Michael Behringer (Organ)
- Daniel Sepec (Violin)
- Hille Perl (Viol)
- Lee Santana (Archlute)
Notes & Reviews:
Heinrich Biber's Rosary (Mystery) Sonatas - fifteen sonatas for violin and continuo portraying the fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, and an extended passacaglia for solo violin - constitute a high point in virtuosic Baroque violin music: each sonata employs scordatura, a different tuning of the violin's strings. Violinist Daniel Sepec presents an authentic interpretation of Biber's famed sonata cycle on original violins of the celebrated Tyrolean violin maker Jakob Stainer (c. 1617-1683), with outstanding continuo accompaniment by Hille Perl, Lee Santana and Michael Behringer.
"Franz Biber (1644-1704) was an Austrian composer and violinist and who spent the greater part of his life in Salzburg where he published much of his music but gave few concerts. Without him the history of the violin might have taken a different turn, and his influence mightily expanded the possibilities of the instrument while creating a virtual textbook of scordatura tuning. His music is complex, intricate, descriptive, and extremely difficult for even the modern virtuoso.
Maximilian Gandolph von Khuenburg was the dedicatee, to whom Biber says "I have consecrated the whole to the honour of the XV Sacred Mysteries, which you promote so strongly." The first and last pieces are the only ones using normal tuning, and the sonatas depict the mysteries of the western rosary ("rose garden"), the prayer beads used to count the series of prayers that make up the rosary. In the engraved printing a picture of each mystery appears in front of each sonata, while an angel and child appear before the final passacaglia. Biber did not confine himself solely to the violin, also writing masses, requiems, and other musical forms, but his lasting legacy remains his violin works, of which the Rosary Sonatas are by far the most important.
There have been many good recordings of this music, some with a more extended continuo and others scaled back, like the Manze version on Harmonia mundi. My favorite to this point has been the recording by John Holloway on Virgin Classics, but this new lusciously-captured reading by Daniel Spec has much to commend it. Spec uses a viola da gamba archlute, theorbo, harpsichord, and organ to great effect. Some might think this overkill in these sonatas, and prefer a scaled-back version that gives more credence to the things happening in the violin itself, but to me these works are orchestral in sonority and massive in descriptive power, and as such are only enhanced by the added colors and weight. The surround sound is nicely done, making good use of all channels, and bringing a certain depth to the experience that would be otherwise lacking. Definitely a keeper."-audaud.com
"What makes this a highly recommended recording, is Sepec's respect for Biber, that is evident in every observed slur, articulation making, and tempo indication. I believe I can hear Biber sound again in my ears."-American Record GuideNotes & Reviews:
Recording information: Church of St. Martin Colnrade (10/12/2009-10/19/2009).
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Works DetailsBiber, Heinrich Ignaz : Mystery Sonatas (16), for violin & basso continuo (or solo violin), C. 90-105
- Performers: Lee Santana (Theorbo); Michael Behringer (Harpsichord); Michael Behringer (Organ); Daniel Sepec (Violin); Hille Perl (Viol); Lee Santana (Archlute)
- Notes: Church of St. Martin Colnrade (10/12/2009-10/19/2009)
- Running Time: 5 min. 42 sec.
- Period Time: Baroque
- Written: 1676