Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Biber: Violin Sonatas

"Romanesca ... is simply stunning; virtuosity so effortless as to be unnoticeable and a sense of capricious fantasy so vital to the convincing projection of such highly personal music, veering from mind-blowing complexity to artless simplicity, often in the space of a few seconds." –-BBC Music Magazine

Andrew Manze plays violins by Joseph Gagliano, Naples, 1783 and Hieronymus Amati, Cremona, 1663; bows by Gerhard Landwehr, Heemstede, 1986.

Anyone who cares about Biber's extraordinary instrumental music (and to hear it is to love it) probably owns this set already. It has received raves from practically everyone, garnered prestigious international awards, and it established Andrew Manze as perhaps the most exciting Baroque violin virtuoso out there today. Its reissue, with a slightly different version of the original "road kill" cover, offers anyone who missed it the first time around an opportunity to enjoy a remarkable musical experience.

The performances are astounding in all respects, from Manze's supreme virtuosity and idiomatic freedom to the superbly conceived supporting roles of Nigel North on lute and theorbo and John Toll on harpsichord and organ. In addition to the sonatas, you also get a fabulous take on the hilarious Sonata Representativa as well as Manze's intense view of the amazing Passacaglia for solo violin, the greatest work of its kind before Bach's Chaconne in D minor. Perfectly balanced, warm, luminous sonics make this one of the finest recordings of all time. Even if you hate Baroque music, hate violin music--or even hate music--you should own this. --David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

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