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chan0748
Wydawnictwo: Chandos
Seria: Chaconne
Nr katalogowy: CHAN 0748
Nośnik: 1 CD
Data wydania: styczeń 2008
EAN: 95115074824
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Epoka muzyczna: barok
Obszar (język): niemiecki
Instrumenty: altówka

Biber: Mensa sonora

Chandos - CHAN 0748
Wykonawcy
Jane Rogers, viola
The Purcell Quartet
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Utwory na płycie:
Mensa sonora, seu Musica instrumentalis
Sonata in A major for violin, violone and harpsichord
Heinrich Biber is known today mostly for his music for solo violin, and in particular his cycle of extravagantly virtuosic Rosary or Mystery sonatas. He was born in the small town of Wartenberg (now Stráž pod Ralskem) near Reichenberg (Liberec) in northern Bohemia, the son of a gamekeeper; he was baptised on 12 August 1644. He probably received his musical training and fi rst professional experience in the household of Karl Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn, prince-bishop of Olomouc in Moravia, where he was probably the pupil of Pavel Josef Vejvanovský, the Kapellmeister. In the autumn of 1670 Biber left Liechtenstein- Kastelkorn’s household, apparently without permission, and shortly afterwards entered the service of Maximilian Gandolph, Archbishop of Salzburg. He remained there until his death in 1704, becoming vice-Kapellmeister in 1679 and Kapellmeister in 1684.

As befi ts someone who was the Kapellmeister (musical director) of an important court as well as a virtuoso violinist, Biber did not confi ne himself to composing music for his own instrument. He wrote a good deal of music for various types of instrumental ensemble, music for many dramatic works (of which the sole survivor is the opera Arminio), at least nine masses (several others are now lost) and a wide range of vesper psalms, motets and other miscellaneous church music. Much of his music survives in manuscripts in the library of the castle at Kromeˇrˇíž, Karl Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn’s summer residence about thirty miles from Olomouc – including pieces that must have been composed after 1670, which suggests that Biber remained on good terms with Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn, sending him his latest compositions from Salzburg. Although some of his works survive in manuscript in Salzburg (including the massive Missa Salisburgensis), most of his later music has come down to us in printed collections. Of the works on this CD, the Mensa sonora suites were published in Salzburg by J.B. Mayr in 1680, while the violin sonata survives in an autograph manuscript at Kromeríž.

Mensa sonora, seu Musica instrumentalis When Biber published Mensa sonora he was contributing to a tradition that went back to the sixteenth century. The practice of compiling and publishing collections of dance music for instrumental ensembles started with the danseries issued by the Paris publisher Pierre Attaingnant. Collections of this sort consisted of simple, functional dances, suitable for a wide range of instruments. But gradually composers came to write more specifi cally for consorts of instruments of the violin family – which had become the most favoured medium for courtly dance music by the end of the sixteenth century. In Mensa sonora Biber uses a four-part ensemble consisting of violin, two violas and violone with cembalo. This was the standard dance-band ensemble used in central Europe at the time. Many suites by Biber and his contemporaries in manuscripts at Kromeˇrˇíž have precisely this scoring, and four-part writing with a single violin and two violas had been standard in the Austrian empire since the sixteenth century. Nevertheless, the modern layout with two violins and viola was beginning to replace it at the end of the seventeenth century, and has been used in these recorded performances. The violone for which Biber wrote was almost certainly the bass violin rather than some type of viola da gamba, though his use of it in sharp keys suggests that it was tuned in C, like the modern violoncello, rather than a tone lower, in B fl at, as given in most sixteenth- and seventeenth-century treatises. The harpsichord continuo part does not just double the bass, as in eighteenth-century string music, but supports the lowest part at any given moment, so that in contrapuntal passages it often doubles the violas and even the violin.

That Biber used the title Mensa sonora (sonorous, or harmonious, table) for his collection suggests that the six suites were more than just functional dance music, and this is also indicated by the grouping of dances within the suites and by the character of some of the individual movements. The Latin word mensa (and its equivalents Tafel in German and table in French and English) was frequently used in the seventeenth century to signal that the music was suitable to accompany aristocratic dining. Dance suites were particularly useful for this purpose because they were lively and cheerful, and consisted of short repeated sections so that the players, if unexpectedly commanded to stop, were never more than a few bars away from a convenient stopping point. In Mensa sonora Biber mixes the standard dances used in suites, the Allamanda, Courante, Sarabanda and Gigue, with more unusual items, such as the Gagliarda (a fast duple time movement unrelated to the Renaissance triple time dance), the Canario (again, in duple time rather than the normal fast triple time), the Amener (normally used in France as the second section of a suite of branles), and the Trezza (a fast triple time dance popular in Austria). Mostly, these dances are straightforward as treated by Biber, and could easily be danced to, though as always in his music one is struck by the consummate craftsmanship: the skilful but unobtrusive counterpoint, the sensuous and grateful string writing and the surefooted harmonic planning. Characteristically, too, there are fl ashes of humour, as in the unexpected hiatus towards the end of the Gagliarda in the third suite, and the weird throwaway ending to the sixth (and therefore to the whole set), in C minor rather than the expected G minor. Nevertheless, Biber frequently offers deeper things, particularly in the short contrapuntal sonatas that begin three of the suites, in the beautiful allemandes in the fi rst and fourth, and in the chaconnes in the third and sixth.

Sonata in A major As already mentioned, Biber’s A major violin sonata survives in an autograph manuscript at Kromeˇrˇíž, probably copied soon after he left for Salzburg. It is a substantial and virtuosic piece, consisting of the sonata proper in three main sections (a rhetorical prelude, a fugal passage in gigue rhythm and a series of fl orid improvisatory passages largely over pedal points), followed by a duple time Aria with eleven variations over a simple eight-bar ground bass. In the variations Biber takes the player (and the listener) systematically through a compendium of virtuoso devices, including rapid passagework of various types, complex multiple stops, and a variation marked Tremelo. Tardissimo that seems to imitate the tremulant stop on an organ

© 2008 Peter Holman

Zobacz także:

  • CHAN 0822(2)
  • CHAN 0820
  • ADX 13715
  • ATMCD 1842
  • AVI 8553393
  • AN 28798
  • BRIDG 9483
  • BRIDG 9472
  • GLO 5268
  • SWR 19053