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Biber: Harmonia Artificioso - Ariosa; Tam Aris Quam Aulis Servientes
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, Rare Fruits Council, Manfredo Kraemer
Biber: Harmonia Artificioso - Ariosa; Tam Aris Quam Aulis Servientes
Genre: Classical
 
"Of all the violin players of the last century Biber seems to have been the best, and his solos are the most difficult of any music I have seen of the same period." It is in these terms that the 18th century English music ...  more »

     
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"Of all the violin players of the last century Biber seems to have been the best, and his solos are the most difficult of any music I have seen of the same period." It is in these terms that the 18th century English music historian Charles Burney speaks of Heinrich Biber. This peerless violinist was just as gifted a composer, his works diffused as far afield as France and North Germany. His first opus, published by 1676, is a collection of twelve sonatas. In them, he reveals his mastery of the Italianate style then so popular in Austria, adding to the strings and basso continuo the bright sound of two trumpets. The seven partitas of his Harmonia Artificioso - Ariosa go even further in their quest for virtuosity. Among the "artifices" required of the two soloists is scordatura, a modification of the normal tuning of the strings that gives them still greater brilliance... and that Biber's distant successor Mozart was to use in his Sinfonia concertante K364.
 

CD Reviews

Ignore the Lips!!
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 12/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I don't differ much from the previous reviewer, Sky, about this musical offering. Biber's 'Harmonia artificioso-ariosa' is a set of seven duet partitas, each of which is a masterpiece of caprice and harmonic drama. The 'Tam Aris Quam Aulis' is far less a unified work; rather it's a collection of fanfares and intermezzi, many of which you may have heard in use on the various CDs available of Biber's massive masses. The Harmonia is one of the crown jewels of Baroque chamber music.

The performance by the Rare Fruits Council is a separate issue. It's an exciting interpretation, to my ear marred by excesses of ferocity at times, too much eagerness to establish the group's identity perhaps, to the point of deliberate ugliness of tone. If you like consorts that take risks, you'll love Rare Fruits, but there's also something to be said for thoughtfully encompassing the whole musical structure of a deep composition. That's the approach Reinhard Goebel has taken with his ensemble, Musica Antiqua Koln. One might be surprised to hear Goebel praised for modesty, but it this case it's true. By his own declaration, he waited thirty years before committing his ideas about Harmonia to recording. The thoughtfulness shows; his interpretation is every bit as virtuosic as Rare Fruits', and a good deal more cohesive.

It's a great privilege of our era to be able to sit back and listen to two magnificent recordings of the same music, and to choose one as slightly better. Thanks, Reinhard Goebel! Thanks, Manfred Kraemer! You've made my afternoon!"