BIBER: Rosary Sonatas
Rachel Podger, violin. David Miller, theorbo. Marcin Swiatkiewicz, harpsochord. Jonathan Manson, cello
CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCSA 37315 TT: 73:50
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"FLOS VIRGINUM" - Motets from the 15th Century
Stimmwerck
CPO SACD 777 937 TT: 61:10
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HAYDN: Symphony No. 31 in D "Horn Signal." Symphony No. 70 in D. Symphony No. 101 in D "The Clock."
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Robin Ticciati, cond.
LINN SACD CKD 500 TT: 77:00
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Rachel Podger's legion of fans will welcome her latest recording, a 2-disk set of music by Heinrich Ignaz von Biber (1644-1704). He was one of the most important of all composers of music for the violin. As CD notes state, Biber's Rosary Sonatas are considered the most extensive example of scordatura — a technique whereby the strings are purposefully tuned differently from their usual arrangement. In these works, the violin's usual G-D-A-E tuning is only used for the opening sonata and the closing Passacaglia. The other fourteen sonatas each have a different configuration of tuning. Compositionally, this allowed Biber to obtain unusual chords, opening up a whole new spectrum of harmonic and textural possibilities. This fundamentally altered what a violin was and could be; its physicality as well as its voice was transformed. On this recording, the incomparable Rachel Podger reveals all the mysteries and glories of these amazing works. There are 16 of these sonatas, all performed by Podger and her colleagues with consummate artistry, recorded January 2015 in the warm acoustics of the Church of Jude-on-the-hill, Hampsted, London. The two disks sell for the price of one.

Flos Virginum is the title of CPO's new SACD of motets and canzonas of the 15th Century, music composed about two centuries before Biber. It consists of music by many composers that probably will be new to most listeners, plus many pieces that are anonymous. Performances are by Stimmwerc which includes countertenor Franz Vitzthum, tenors Klaus Wenk and Gerhard Hölzle, and bass-baritone Marcus Schmidl, along with countertenor David Erler. They surely seem devoted to this music, and the recording made in Kloster Church, Adlerberg in May 2014, recreates the sound of a resonant church. Complete texts and translations are provided.

The disk of three Haydn symphonies is a joy. The remark ab le young conductor Robin Ticciati leads the fine Scottish Chamber Orchestra in stunning performances, spirited throughout, magnificently played. Recorded in Edinburgh's Usher Hall early this year, the Linn's producer /engineer Phillip Hobbs has captured a perfect concert hall atmosphere, rich and designed. The orchestra is in front, but reflected sound from rear speakers is just right. Don't miss it!

R.E.B. (October 2015)

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