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I am a great fan of the music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704), and always look out for cds of his music to add to my collection. This is a wonderful collection of Biber’s sonatas, including two previously unpublished works. They are presented beautifully by John Holloway on violin, with Aloysia Assenbaum, organ, and Lars Ulrik Mortensen, haprischord. Biber’s writing for the violin tends to sometimes verge on the impossible, with stong virtuosic demands, and Holloway continues to prove himself more than capable of sympathetically and musically portraying Biber’s music on this cd. Indeed, John Holloway’s participation in any baroque violin music would be a selling point for me, I am a great admirer of his work in baroque music.

The pieces on this cd are:
Sonata III F major from Sonatae Violino solo 1681
Sonata IV D major from Sonatae Violino solo 1681
Sonata No. 81 A major – unpublished
Sonata VI C minor from Sonatae Violino solo 1681
Sonata VII G major from Sonatae Violino solo 1681
Sonata No. 84 E major – unpublished

There is a very comprehensive booklet with the cd, including performers’ notes by John Holloway, where he explains among other things his decision on the instrumentation used in this recording. There is also a very interesting article on Biber’s violin sonatas by Peter Wollny. This is a highly recommended recording, and I am glad to add it to my collection, where it will be listened to often.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 January 2011
Biber, to my mind at least, is a hidden treasure. This lovely album, coupled with his Mystery Sonatas, comprises some of the loveliest violin sonatas I've ever discovered. Bach, Albinoni and Vivaldi all come to mind, in the sense that there is real joyful invention in the music, played superbly by Holloway, a great advocate for Biber,and with real delight in the music making. This is a disc of real colour and range in the irresistible melody lines, and the combination of violin, with organ and harpsichord as continuo, provides a real warmth to the music making.
Biber is now well known for his 'scordatura', re-tuning of the strings to increase the range and complexity of the instrument, but this technical feat would be limited were it not coupled with blissfully expressive music, in which the violin can make little skipping dances one moment, then deliver a ghostly beauty the next. Performances and recording are outstanding here, and the colour and warmth of the melodies highly addictive. No lover of the violin, or exquisitely melodic music, should be without this, or Holloway's recording of the Mystery Sonatas Biber - The Mystery Sonatas Simply gorgeous music. A Gramophone 'Star' recommendation, and little wonder!
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on 16 October 2009
A wonderful disc of profound music by Biber, whose violinistic virtuosity and depth of musical invention is brought to life by John Holloway and his colleagues - part of a fascinating series of recordings of Biber and other 17th century violin music by the same performers.
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on 20 January 2015
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