Biber: Mystery (Rosary) Sonatas
Title:

Biber: Mystery (Rosary) Sonatas

Artists:

Alan Chooviolin

Jeannette Sorrell, director/harpsichord
Apollo’s Fire

Release Date:

1st March 2024

Cat No:

AV2656

Price:

£19.49 (2CD | 24 page booklet)

Summary:

The Mystery Sonatas by Austrian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, believed to have been penned in the 1670s, remain unsurpassed for their virtuosity and extended use of scordatura, a unique tuning system that underscores different aural colours and timbres of the violin, thereby illuminating the pictorial themes of the Rosary – the processions devoted to major moments in the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary – which Biber’s work depicts.

Singaporean violinist Alan Choo, the vibrant leader of acclaimed baroque ensemble Apollo’s Fire, headlines a dynamic and descriptive recording of the Mystery Sonatas, enhancing the scordatura with six different violins that require 15 individual tunings. He explains, “The use of a unique scordatura tuning for each sonata means that a violinist needs to use multiple violins if performing several of the pieces in the same week – each violin kept at the tuning of its respective sonata. Otherwise, the constant re-tuning of a violin would destabilize its tuning. I used a total of six violins in this recording. The personality of each instrument shines through.”

Joined by a chamber ensemble of his Apollo’s Fire colleagues, including founding director Jeannette Sorrell on harpsichord, Choo navigates Biber’s extended techniques with aplomb and devotion to the 15 programmatic sonatas which are compiled into three cycles – the Joyful Mysteries (the Angel Gabriel delivers the news to Mary that she will be the mother of the Messiah), Sorrowful Mysteries (Jesus’ agony, knowing he is about to be betrayed) and Glorious Mysteries (the Resurrection of Christ and his ascent to heaven) – and are crowned by the timeless finale, Passacaglia for solo violin.

Tracklist:

HEINRICH IGNAZ FRANZ VON BIBER (1644–1704)

Mystery Sonatas
Die Rosenkranzsonaten; Copper-Engraving Sonatas

Disc 1

The Joyful Mysteries

Sonata No. 1 in D Minor “The Annunciation”
1. I. Praeludium
2. II. Aria (Allegro) – Variatio – Finale

Sonata No. 2 in A Major “The Visitation”
3. I. Sonata
4. II. Allaman
5. III. Presto

Sonata No. 3 in B Minor “The Nativity”
6. I. Sonata
7. II. Courente – Double
8. III. Adagio

Sonata No. 4 in D Minor “The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple”
9. Ciacona

Sonata No. 5 in A Major “The Finding of Jesus in the Temple”
10. I. Praeludium
11. II. Allaman
12. III. Guigue
13. IV. Saraban – Double

The Sorrowful Mysteries

Sonata No. 6 in C Minor “The Agony in the Garden”
14. I. Lamento
15. II. Adagio

Sonata No. 7 in F Major “The Scourging at the Pillar”
16. I. Allamanda – Variatio
17. II. Sarabanda – Variatio

Sonata No. 8 in B flat Major “The Crowning with Thorns”
18. I. Sonata: Adagio – Presto – [Adagio]
19. II. Guigue – Double (Presto) – Double II

Sonata No. 9 in A Minor “The Carrying of the Cross”
20. I.  Sonata
21. II. Courente – Double – [Double II]
22. III. Finale

Sonata No. 10 in G Minor “The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus”
23. I. Praeludium
24. II. Aria – Variatio

Disc 2

The Glorious Mysteries

Sonata No. 11 in G Major “The Resurrection”
1. I. Sonata
2. II. Surrexit Christus hodie
3. III. Adagio

Sonata No. 12 in C Major “The Ascension”
4. I. Intrada
5. II. Aria Tubicinum
6. III. Allamanda
7. IV. Courente – Double

Sonata No. 13 in D Minor “The Descent of the Holy Spirit”
8. I. Sonata
9. II. Gavott – Guigue
10. III. Sarabanda

Sonata No. 14 in D Major “The Assumption of Mary into Heaven”
11. I. [Praeludium]
12. II. Aria – Aria II – Guigue

Sonata No. 15 in C Major “The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth”
13. I. Sonata
14. II. Aria – [Variatio]
15III. Canzon
16. IV. Sarabanda

Sonata No. 16 in G Minor “The Guardian Angel”
17. Passacaglia

Alan Chooviolin
Jeannette Sorrell, director/harpsichord
Apollo’s Fire

Recorded at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
November 19, 2021; September 26-29, 2022; November 30-December 1, 2022;
February 8-9, 2023; March 31, 2023; May 15-16, 2023.
Recording Producer and Editor: Erica Brenner
Recording and Mix Engineer: Daniel Shores
Mastering Engineer: Paul Blakemore

Related Releases: