This recording of Heinrich Biber's twelve chamber sonatas "Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum" is performed by Ars Antiqua Austria and its director Gunar Letzbor. In recent years the group has forged an impressive reputation for its period instrument interpretation of baroque music.
Ars Antiqua Austria was founded in Linz in 1995 with the aim of introducing audiences to the roots of Austrian baroque music played on period instruments. The music performed at the imperial court in Vienna at this time shows the strong influence of Italian and later of French forms, while Spanish court ceremonials also shape the character of the works. The core of Ars Antiqua Austria comprises eight musicians directed by Gunar Letzbor. The ensemble is readily augmented to accommodate a still wider repertoire. Recent recordings by Ars Antiqua Austria on Challenge Classics include discs devoted to music by Fux, Graupner, and Werner.
The 17th century Bohemian/Austrian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber is best known for his works for solo violin, the most well known of these being the "Mystery Sonatas". He also however wrote a considerable amount of music for string ensemble including a set of 12 chamber sonatas subtitled "Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum" which were first published in Nuremberg in 1683. The title refers to the fact that the music in the sonatas combine sacred and secular (profane) styles.
Personnel: Ars Antiqua Austria, Gunar Letzbor (violin, direction)
(5 stars) The musical invention is fantastical and wayward, chromatically adventurous in ways that are more often associated with the 20th century than the 17th. Intoxicating stuff. --The Irish Times, (Michael Dervan), January 3, 2014