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Early Music

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Heinrich Ignaz BIBER (1644-1704)
Balletti and Sonatas for Trumpets and Strings

Sonatae tam Aris quam Aulis servientes
A Due No.1 [1.16]
A Due No.2 [1.16]
A Due No.3 [1.27]
A Due No.4 [1.29]
A Due No.5 [0.37]
A Due No.6 [0.42]
A Due No.10 [1.43]
Sonata VII [5.58]
Sonata X [5.29]
Balleti a 6 [6.51]
Mensa Sonora, seu Musica instrumentalis
Partia IV [9.01]
Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa
Partia IV [7.52]
Partia VI [18.09]
Clemencic Consort/René Clemencic
Recorded at W A R Studios, Vienna, May 2004
OEHMS CLASSICS OC 515 [69.28]


Collections of much of this music have been released with increasing regularity over the past decade or so and this serves as a testament to Biber’s exceptional creativity and versatility. His use of scordatura and particular timbres are but two examples. Here René Clemencic and his eponymous ensemble – a string quartet, in effect, with two trumpets and Clemencic himself playing harpsichord or organ -give us a selection which includes the Balleti a 6 and a number of the Sonatae tam Aris quam Aulis servientes together with other smaller works. The ensemble is an original instrument one and they make a crisp, clear, not overly sensuous sound.

The programme has been selected in such a way that that the Sonatae break up the longer chamber pieces. They’re played by the two-trumpet team of Andreas Lackner and Herbert Walser and as the Sonatae seldom last longer than a minute and a half this also acts as a palette cleanser - and a good contrastive device. The ensemble proves adept at delineating Biber’s less cerebral Balleti; there’s real buoyancy in the Sonata opening and a folkloric insistence in the Amener. They don’t forego the elegance of the Trazze either, with its sturdy harpsichord and gruff ending, and the trumpets have their moment in the Canario with plenty of headlong attaca. There are more affectionate, lyric moments too, as in the Amoresca.

Mensa Sonora, seu Musica instrumentalis is essentially Tafelmusik and to that extent more expansive developmentally than the rather more musically emblematic Balleti. It was dedicated to the Archbishop of Salzburg and is genial, tuneful and entirely winning. Its expressive peak resides in the final Sonatina, an Adagio of richness with an increased array of tone colours. We also have two parts of Biber’s Harmonia Artificiosa with their flighty and impressive virtuosity underscored in this performance. Part VI is by some way the longer and its unfolding drama is also reflective of those Sonatas – here we have ebullience and affect combined with virtuosity and drama, especially when the solo violin soars magically and acrobatically over the bronzed slower middle voicings The Sonatae tam Aris quam Aulis servientes – Sonata X embodies certain characteristics familiar from the Mystery Sonatas as well a penetrating inward expressivity and it stands as one of the highlights of the disc.

The sound is unostentatious and ungimmicky. It captures the ensemble with fidelity and clarity. If you don’t seek a complete traversal of these works then this selection is well judged and very effective.

Jonathan Woolf



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