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Biber: Mystery Sonatas (Rosenkranz-Sonaten or Rosary Sonatas) - Goebel Import

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Audio CD, Import, July 8, 1991
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Disc: 1
1. I. The Annuciation
2. II. The Visitation
3. III. The Nativity
4. IV. The Presentation
5. V. The Finding in the Temple
6. VI. The Agony in the Garden
7. VII. The Scourging of Jesus
8. VIII. The Crowing of Jesus with Thorns
Disc: 2
1. IX. Jesus carries His Cross
2. X. The Crucifixion
3. XI. The Resurrection
4. XII. The Ascension
5. XIII. The Descent of the Holy Ghost
6. XIV. The Assumption of our Lady
7. XV. The Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8. Passacaglia

Product Details

  • Performer: Phoebe Carrai, Andreas Holschneider, Konrad Junghänel
  • Orchestra: Musica Antiqua Köln
  • Conductor: Reinhard Goebel
  • Composer: Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber
  • Audio CD (July 8, 1991)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Archiv / Universal Int'l
  • ASIN: B0000057DS
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,637 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Alan Lekan on November 25, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Biber's so-called "Mystery Sonatas" are among the most alluring, meditative, virtuostic and amazingly beautiful compositions ever written for the violin - which this fine recording captures most vividly. Three aspects of this recording stand out as superb and make this CD a highly recommended recording for Biber's "Mystery Sonatas." The first is the extremely vivid and crystaline sound quality from DG, who created an ideally-resonant sound ambiance that brings out the mystery and depth of this music. Stunning. The second aspect is the most unique, mysterious and musically innovative compositions from the Austrian violin virtuoso and composer, Biber. The depth of emotive effects and degree of virtusosity immediately catch the attention of the listener and draws one into their mysteries (of the life of Christ). In addition to the "standard" harpsichord and/or therebo continuo, these sonatas also add deeply-resonant organ bass pedal-points that create a powerful and alluring backdrop for the drama of the solosit to unfold. Several reviews below give some valuable background info on these compositions if you are not familiar.

The last aspect that makes this recording special is the accomplished playing of Reinhard Goebels that is of the highest caliber. His technique in the 32nd-note passages is flawless, crisp and worthy of the finest accolades while the sensitive and soaring tonality he exudes in the slower movements is extremely attractive and never grating to the ear. Goebels plays this music not only with the utmost virtuosity but also with a well-judged passion - bringing drama while respecting Biber's sacred and meditative musical intentions by not overly "attacking" the music. His smooth lyricism honors Biber's contemplative designs.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By S. Gustafson on July 3, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Reinhard Goebel and members of the Musica Antiqua Köln give an almost effortless and very listenable performance of Heinrich Ignatz Franz von Biber's Mystery Sonatas here. This is no mean feat, in that each of these sonatas save the first, and the final Passacaglia, is in a different and weird -scordatura- tuning.

This means that the violin strings are tuned very unconventionally. The musical notation is in tablature, basically telling the violinist where to put his fingers, and how the instrument should be tuned for this piece. In effect, the violin is turned into several different instruments, and each tuning presents the player with a new and unknown landscape. In No. 11, "Resurrexit Christus Hodie," the two central strings actually are switched, so that the tones of the unstopped strings jump up and down rather than going from lowest to highest.

With this deliberate weirdness, you might fear that the results would be unmusical. This fortunately is not so. These are emotion-filled works from the seventeenth century baroque, usually dated to 1678. The sonatas track the meditations on the life and passion of Christ as presented in the Roman Catholic Rosary devotion, and as such are rich in expressive, occasionally even violent, musical ideas. Despite their technical difficulty, Reinhard Goebel succeeds in making them sing.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By ewomack VINE VOICE on June 5, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Fans of the violin, or baroque music in general, will enjoy this interesting collection of pieces subsumed under the title "Mystery Sonatas". All fifteen traditional "Mysteries of the Rosary"(compiled well before Pope John Paul II added 5 additional "mysteries" in 2002) are represented by a piece for violin, violincello, lute, organ, or harpsichord (with a concluding solo violin Passacaglia). Each segment of the work is gorgeously composed and performed. Overall the feeling is of contemplation, as if the piece were meant to provide a musical setting for contemplation of the mysteries. This theory makes sense prima facie, but the CD booklet reveals the abject paucity of information available about the work's origins and purpose. The date of composition is even in question. Biber did not choose to publish the work, and the title page of the manuscript is missing (the entire work had been considered lost until its rediscovery in the 1890s). It seems to have been a private work, not meant for public consumption. A lengthy dedication to Archibishop Maximillian Gandolph (reprinted in the CD booklet) sheds some much needed light on the who, what, and why of the piece, but regardless questions still remain. "Mystery Sonatas", consequently, aptly describes this work in more than one sense.
One of the remaining mysteries, and one of the amazing facts about any recording of this piece, is that each of the segments require different violin tunings. No one seems to know why the work was composed with such agonigingly varied tunings for violin (the manuscript apparently utilized tabulature). Now it's simply part of the "mystery".
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Juan Pablo Pira on July 26, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Biber wrote each of the 15 Rosary sonatas and the final passacaglia in different scordature (16 different scordature!!). To make things even more difficult, the sonatas were scored for violin and B.C. so, except for the bass line, all parts for the other instruments were either composed or improvised by the performers. Rather than just providing accompaniments, the members of Musica Antiqua Koeln show their amazing musicality by realizing one of the most beautiful performances of baroque music you can find.
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