Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s (1644-1704) virtuosic 16 Mystery Sonatas, also known as the Rosary Sonatas, are the composer's best known works.
Played by violinist Sirkka-Liisa Kaakinen-Pichl and the Finnish Baroque ensemble. Ms. Kaakinen-Pichl is in great demand as a leader of countless renowned early music ensembles and orchestras, and has also worked for ten years as leader of Philippe Herreweghe’s Collegium Vocale.
Don’t be put off by the title: this is wonderful music, and all the words indicate is that the pieces can be used in church or court… what you get in these 12 sonatas is the music of gesture: sweeping roulades, folksy melodies, plangent fanfares. Fiercely incisive playing from Ars Antiqua, the six strings led by Gunar Letzbor, and unforced accuracy from the trumpets.
Violinist Vaughan Jones brings us a fascinating collection of 18th century solo works. Three hundred years after their first publication, Austrian composer Johann Joseph Vilsmayr's Six Partitas for Solo Violin are recorded here in their entirety for the first time. Johann Georg Pisendel was a famous Baroque violinist and composer. His fiendishly difficult Violin Sonata is an unpredictable, tempestuous and capricious work, showing great scope and ambition. To round out the recording, Jones plays the famous Passacaglia by Biber - a somber, moving work and a perfect end to this noteworthy set.
Biber's 'Rosary Sonatas' for violin and basso continuo stand alone in the violin literature and in music history, offering a unique combination of programmatic material and the use of scordatura. The cycle consists of fifteen sonatas for violin and basso continuo, and a closing Passacaglia for solo violin, composed c.1687. Through the copper engravings inserted at the head of each sonata in the manuscript depicting key moments in the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary, the music has become associated with the Catholic Mysteries of the Rosary.