Notes and Editorial Reviews
Gently reflective, virtuosic where required and firmly in touch with the heart of the music.
When this Virgin recording of Biber’s Mystery Sonatas was first issued in 1990 it had, I believe, only three predecessors – Susanne Lautenbacher (Vox), Eduard Melkus (DG) and Franzjosef Maier (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi). Since then, interest in this beautiful and affecting music has grown quickly and John Holloway’s version has been followed by at least half a dozen others. Each of Biber’s 15 Mystery Sonatas is inspired by an event in the lives of Jesus and his mother, as depicted in the Catholic devotion of the Rosary. They form three groups of five in Biber’s scheme: Joyful Mysteries, Sorrowful Mysteries and Glorious Mysteries.
To these, he appended, as a coda, a meditative Passacaglia for unaccompanied violin. This piece, and the opening Sonata, are the only ones which do not require ‘scordatura’, or retuning of the violin strings. Holloway’s performance stands well against the competition and not least for the imaginative support he gets from his colourful continuo group. The approach is gently reflective, virtuosic where required and firmly in touch with the many dance rhythms which lie at the heart of the music. Performance: 5 (out of 5), Sound: 5 (out of 5)
-- Nicholas Anderson, BBC Music Magazine
Works on This Recording
Mystery Sonatas (15) for Violin and Basso Continuo by Heinrich Ignaz Biber
John Holloway (Violin),
Stephen Stubbs (Lute),
Davitt Moroney (Chamber Organ),
Erin Headley (Bass Viola Da Gamba),
Andrew Lawrence-King (Harp),
Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Written: circa 1676; Salzburg, Austria
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