Saturday, April 16, 2011

Biber - Rosary Sonatas - Sepec, Perl, Santana, Behringer







Daniel Sepec’s recording of Heinrich Biber’s Rosary (or Mystery) Sonatas differs a bit from the many others that have preceded it. In his performances, Sepec makes use of three violins by the Tyrolean master Jakob Stainer, whose instruments once commanded far greater respect than did Stradivari’s or del Gesù’s (Bach played on one and the Italian Francesco Maria Veracini lost a pair that he dubbed “St. Peter and St. Paul” in a shipwreck). Sepec plays the first of these, from about 1650, in Sonatas 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, and 16; the second, from 1680, in Sonatas 3 and 8; and the third, from 1682—possibly Stainer’s last violin—in Sonatas 7, 9, and 12. His notes make it clear that he takes to these sonatas the kind of programmatic approach that others have  eschewed.

imageIs Sepec right to find so much programmatic specificity in these sonatas, or even wise to search for it? Truth to tell, it may not matter to listeners who wish to focus on the performances themselves, in which he, in collaboration with his imaginative ensemble, shifts mercurially from Affekt to Affekt and from timbre to timbre, providing a sense of variety and insight into the structure of the music that requires no special extraneous associations. And do the Stainers provide enough interest to justify their use? In fulfilling Sepec’s quest to explore the way the works might have sounded in Biber’s time, they surely do add a sense of authenticity. With all the obvious objections thus countered, it’s no stretch to bestow on these engaging readings a very strong commendation.



flac, cover


  1. A new version of Biber's Rosay is welcome always.
    Thank you so much.

  2. Very much appreciated, this and the other Biber posts. Best regards Otto...



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