This two disc set of Heinrich von Biber’s Rosary or Mystery Sonatas presents the complete set of fifteen sonatas and the concluding passacaglia which appears in the sole surviving Munich manuscript.
The sonatas each correspond to the fifteen mysteries or meditations on the life of Christ. The meditations are traditionally grouped into three groups of five; Joyful – his early life, Sorrowful – his passion; Glorious – his ressurection.
In writing the sonatas Biber uses scordatura, tuning the strings to a different set of notes for each sonata. This achieves technical feats impossible with normal tuning and results in different sonorities resulting from the varying amounts of pressure from the strings and achieving the different desired mood for each sonata. For the violinist, this involves a constant contradiction between sight and sound, for what he sees is not be what he hears!
Thoughtful, reflective and poetic …. his performances are stylish, idiomatic and vivid – BBC Music Magazine
A beautifully judged performance – Gramophone
The performances are astounding, the variety of bow strokes, the ornamentation of repeats, the occasional colouring of the violins sound – it’s simply wonderful …. This is my recommendation for the month – Early Music Review