MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: Alba Records

A Virtuoso Faceoff
Heinrich Ignaz Franz BIBER

Sonata in A major for Violin and Basso Continuo [11:15]
Georg MUFFAT (1653-1704)
Toccata II for Organ [5:04]
Heinrich Ignaz Franz BIBER
Sonata in C minor for Violin and Basso Continuo [10:53]
Toccata VII for Organ [9:40]
Heinrich Ignaz Franz BIBER
Fantasia in D major for Violin in scordatura and Basso Continuo [7:25]
Passacaglia in G minor for Organ [16:12]
Sonata in D major for Violin and Basso Continuo
Petri Tapio Mattson (Baroque violin); Markku Mäkinen (organ); Eero Palviainen (archlute)
rec. October 2006 and August 2008, Church of St Lawrence, Janakkala.
ALBA ABCD 311 [73:46]

Experience Classicsonline

In a kind of High Baroque version of the duelling guitars from the film ‘Deliverance’, Alba have contrived to set Heinrich Biber and Georg Muffat against each other as rivals in a virtual virtuoso set-piece. The evidence for this is perhaps a little thin, but what is true is that both of these almost exact contemporaries worked for a while at the same time in the Court of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. This period in the 1670s and 1680s gives rise to the not unreasonable speculation that there was a “rivalry that in all probability existed between them for the favour of their influential employer”, presumably with the ambition of ending up as Hofkapellmeister.

Heinrich Biber is probably best known for his ‘Mystery Sonatas’, and the scordatura or re-tuning effects used in his frequently highly virtuoso violin writing. The Sonata in C minor and Fantasia in D major are thought to be early works, with stylistic similarities to works from the early 1680s. Played with archlute accompaniment, and in the case of the Sonata with lute and organ, these have a rich sonority, and are pleasant vehicles for melodic variation and a certain amount of improvisation. Both have variation forms in second or last movement, the Sonata in C minor having a Passagagli adagissimo which allows for maximum exploration of a limited harmonic basis over nearly 10 minutes. The Fantasia in D major is compact, but in its four movements is more adventurous in terms of thematic freedom, using a structure which approaches the ‘church sonata’ as a basis for free-form contrast building. The work with which the disc begins, the Sonata in A major, is thought to be a later piece, written while the composer was in the service of the Prince-Archbishop. All of the features of the earlier works combine here with a deeper experience of composition, with plenty of emphasis on lasting expression and harmonic inventiveness in the adagios, allowing for alternating sections of swift violin extroversion.

Played off against Biber, we have some of the organ inventions of Georg Muffat. Highly skilled as a performer, Muffat was also widely educated as a composer, and able to bring together influences from French, German and Italian styles. His publication Apparatus musico-organisticus published in 1690 is the source for the Toccata pieces here, as well as the Passacaglia in G minor. As you might expect, the toccatas are rich in virtuoso effects, with every kind of compositional technique thrown into the mixture. The Passacaglia employs a rondo technique in which the variations are structured around five repetitions of a basic refrain. At around 16 minutes this is the longest piece on this disc, but holds plenty of intriguing variety and invention, which only occasionally is overtly to do with sheer keyboard dexterity. With the final work on the disc we have the opportunity to compare like with like, Muffat’s Sonata in D major proving very much a match for Biber’s sonatas, and with more surprising harmonies if fewer violinistic fireworks.

This is a very fine disc indeed, with richly recorded instruments in a generous acoustic. The organ of the Church of St. Lawrence in Janakkala is a modern reproduction of the Baroque instrument in St. Cosmae in Stade, North Germany, and very fine it sounds too. There is plenty of rich bass, and the overall sound is rounded and refined. The ‘close to mean temperament’ gives the occasional authentic frisson of marginal tuning, but nothing about this recording or any of its instruments or performances are in any way hair-shirt. Petri Tapio Mattson’s violin playing is very fine, rather in the school of players like John Holloway and Andrew Manze, and not afraid of some extra colour and vibrato where appropriate. The support of both organ and lute is magnificent, resonant and restrained. The SACD sound is particularly fine, bringing what is already a very good stereo recording marvellously to life and adding extra dimensions in particular to the organ, which can otherwise become just a tad muddy through the richness of the lower notes in the CD mix.

Whatever your opinion about the concept of the title, these two composers complement each other superbly, and the Sonata in D major by Georg Muffat is quite a discovery. Does bow beat rolled-up score in this game of rock-paper-stok? Who cares, this is sheer Baroque delight.

Dominy Clements







Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.