Biber: The Rosary Sonatas

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Biber: The Rosary Sonatas


Gramophone Awards 2016

Winner - Baroque Instrumental



Catalogue No:




Release date:

16th Oct 2015






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Biber: The Rosary Sonatas

Rachel Podger (violin), Marcin Świątkiewicz (harpsichord/organ), Jonathan Manson (cello/viola da gamba), David Miller (theorbo/archlute)

SACD - 2 discs


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The Rosary (Mystery) Sonatas, even today, are considered the most extensive example of scordatura. From the Italian discordare meaning ‘out of tune’, scordatura is a technique whereby the strings are purposefully tuned differently from their usual arrangement. Here the usual G-D-A-E tuning, where the violin strings are consistently a perfect fifth apart, 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.

Heinrich Biber: The Rosary Sonatas

1. The Annunciation d minor

2. The Visitation a major

3. The Nativity b minor

4. The Presentation in the Temple d minor

5. The Finding in the Temple a major

6. The Agony in the Garden c minor

7. The Scourging f major

8. The Crowning with Thorns bb major

9. The Carrying of the Cross a minor

10. The Crucifixion g minor

11. The Resurrection g major

12. The Ascension c major

13. The Descent of the Holy Ghost d minor

14. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin d major

15. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin c major

16. Passacaglia g minor

Sunday Times

18th October 2015

“Not for nothing is Podger regarded today as queen of the baroque violin...Podger makes light of the virtuosic demands of this profound music, while never losing sight of it’s religious significance.”

CD Review

17th October 2015

“it stretches the instrument and the violinist to the limit. For this recording Rachel Podger uses the same instrument throughout, putting it through the pain, as part of the fascination for her was how the sound changed from piece to piece as the violin suffer alongside Christ…It’s searching, absorbing, quietly captivating playing and a moving journey through one of the most imaginative sets of violin sonatas ever composed.”

The Observer

18th October 2015

“They are fantastically complex works, with different violin tunings and multiple stoppings, so that Rachel Podger’s accomplished new recording sounds like a battery of many violins. Fine continuo adds to the variety of sound”

Gramophone Magazine

December 2015

“She can play with grace and beauty – at the opening of ‘The Carrying of the Cross’, for instance...There are also many subtleties of articulation and timing, almost as if there are words and pauses lying behind the notes.”

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