by Daniel Hathaway
At its most recent concerts this month, Apollo’s Fire unveiled its newest recording on the Avie label. Mystery Sonatas by the early Baroque Bohemian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber feature concertmaster and assistant artistic director Alan Choo.
One of the most significant rediscoveries from the fascinating period when flights of fancy — dubbed the stylus fantasticus — dominated early Baroque music, Biber’s Rozenkranz-Sonaten lay hidden in the Bavarian State Library in Munich until they came to light in 1905.
That unique and beautiful manuscript from the 1670s contains fifteen solo violin sonatas and a concluding Passacaglia (below) by the prolific Biber, himself a virtuoso violinist. Identified only by a copperplate engraving illustrating its subject, each piece is a meditation on one of the sacred mysteries in the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. [Read more…]