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SACD Review

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber

Rosenkranz Sonatas (1676)

  • 15 Sonatas for Violin & Continuo "Rosary"
  • #1 in D minor "Annunciation"
  • #2 in A Major "Mary's Visit"
  • #3 in B minor "The Nativity"
  • #4 in D minor "Presentation"
  • #5 in A Major "Child Jesus in the Temple"
  • #6 in C minor "The Agony in the Garden"
  • #7 in F Major "The Scourging of Jesus"
  • #8 in B Flat Major "The Crown of Thorns"
  • #9 in A minor "Carrying the Cross"
  • #10 in G minor "The Crucifixion"
  • #11 in G Major "Resurrection"
  • #12 in C Major "The Ascension"
  • #13 in D minor "Holy Ghost"
  • #14 in D Major "Assumption"
  • #15 in C Major "Crowning of the Virgin Mary"
  • Passacaglia in G minor for Violin solo
Riccardo Minasi, violin
Bizzarrie Armoniche
ARTS 47735-8 2 Hybrid Multichannel SACDs 120m DDD
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This SACD re-issue of Biber's famous "Rosary Sonatas" sometimes known as the "Mystery Sonatas" was previously available as two separate CDs on the ARTS label in 2006.

These works, deemed by many to be the composer's magnum opus are imbued with great beauty and palpable emotion. It is naturally split into the three mystery sections, Sorrowful, Joyful and Glorious and includes what can only be termed as extremely difficult parts for the solo violin. Not that this deters Riccardo Minasi who plays the music with an enchanting directness and also has a special feel for the more sober parts of the work.

Bizzarrie Armoniche, a multi-national group based in Italy provide atmospheric accompaniment, be it harp, theorbo or organ and the recording quality is quite superb. Copious notes on Biber's music and other historical aspects of the composition complete a highly entertaining package which retails at the Arts Blue Line mid price and as such the package is indeed highly recommended.

Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech