01_biberBiber - Mystery Sonatas
Julia Wedman
Sono Luminus DSL-92127 (www.sonoluminus.com)

Biber was by all accounts at least as proficient a violinist as his late 17th century contemporary Corelli. He was renowned for his abilities to play in the upper positions and for his complex compositions for the instrument. The sonatas on this disc are perhaps his most well-known, though they are rarely performed for a number of reasons. The Mystery Sonatas were written most likely sometime in the 1670s “to honour the fifteen Sacred Mysteries” of the Catholic Rosary. They are contemplative, deeply spiritual, almost private, intimate pieces. One of their most interesting aspects is that each sonata calls for a different tuning of the open strings of the violin, a technique known as “scordatura” or “de-tuning”. Each sonata has a different structure, some featuring dance movements, others theme and variations, with #4 and #6 featuring extended chaconne and lament movements.

This is a remarkably detailed and well-executed recording, at the centre of which is the stellar and imaginative playing of Julia Wedman, who is a mainstay of Tafelmusik, I Furiosi and the Eybler Quartet. The variety of continuo playing – performed exquisitely by top-notch local players Felix Deak, Charlotte Nediger, Lucas Harris and Julia Seager Scott – contributes to the brilliance of this CD, as does the excellent technical production and program booklet.

It’s clear that this project is a labour of love for Wedman and it represents a high achievement, produced relatively early in what we hope is a long and productive career. Highly recommended.

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