Biber: The Rosary Sonatas

Pan Classics: PC10329

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Biber: The Rosary Sonatas

Catalogue No:




Release date:

18th Sept 2015




2 hours 4 minutes


CD (download also available)
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Biber: The Rosary Sonatas

Lina Tur Bonet (baroque violin & direction)

Musica Alchemica

CD - 2 discs


(also available to download from $20.00)

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Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber's 'Rosary Sonatas' (or Mystery Sonatas) were written about 1678 and dedicated to his employer the Archbishop of Salzburg. They are really unlike anything else in the violin literature. Scordatura, or unconventional tuning of an instrument's strings, was common enough during the Baroque era, but Biber's cycle of 15 pieces for violin and continuo explores the technique exhaustively: each of the 15 sonatas uses a different tuning.

The result is music of fearsome difficulty for the player and technical complexity generates spiritual intensity. Each sonata represents one of the Mysteries of the Catholic Rosary, which are divided into five Joyful Mysteries (the Annunciation …), five Sorrowful Mysteries (Christ's crucifixion …), and five Glorious Mysteries (centered on the Resurrection and on Mary's Assumption). As the music reaches its spiritual climax in the "Resurrection" sonata, Biber specifies that the violin be played with its two central strings crossed.

Lina Tur Bonet is one of the most exciting violinists of the younger generation. She is accompanied by her ensemble Musica Alchemica, with which she recently made an enthralling Vivaldi CD (PC10314).

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber: Mystery Sonatas

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 1, "The Annunciation"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 2, "The Visitation"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 3, "The Nativity"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 4, "The Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 5, "The 12-Year-Old Jesus in the Temple"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 6, "Christ on the Mount of Olives"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 7, "The Scourging at the Pillar"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 8, "The Crown of Thorns"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 9, "Jesus Carries the Cross"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 10, "The Crucifixion"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 11, "The Resurrection"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 12, "The Ascension"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 13, "Pentecost"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 14, "The Assumption of the Virgin"

Mystery (Rosary) Sonata No. 15, "The Beatification of the Virgin"

Passagalia, "The Guardian Angel"

Early Music Today

March/May 2016

“spirited and gutsy … Tur Bonet’s playing focuses on the drama inherent in Biber’s sonatas, presenting each one as an individual theatrical scena ripe with its own particular possibilities … [an] involved and arresting approach.”

Gramophone Magazine

October 2015

“it is the bold colours and fervent drama of her performances that will make the most immediate impact on listeners … there is a grand theatricality in her manner that generates some memorable moments … To end, her Passacaglia is both lithe and affecting, the underpinning of its four-note descending bass impeccably timed.”

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