Biber: Mensa Sonora
- CDR 90000 116
Cedille Selects tracks are designed to provide a representative overview of the album
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Chicago's "stylish and exciting period-instrument group" (Chicago Tribune), Baroque Band presents works by Bohemian-Austrian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. One of the most important composers for the violin in the history of the instrument (the prominent 18th century music historian Charles Burney called Biber the best violin composer of the 17th century), Biber's Mensa Sonora (meaning 'Harmonious Table') was music composed for aristocratic dining, though it is anything but superficial background music. The disc closes with the 10-part Battalia for strings, which uses several unique devices for the time: hitting the strings with the wood of the bow, placing paper under the strings of the basses to imitate a snare drum, snap pizzicatos, and folk songs rendered simultaneously in several different keys to portray drunken soldiers.
Early music specialist Garry Clarke, hailed by the Oxford Times as "one of the finest exponents of baroque music in the [UK]," leads Baroque Band through the feats of virtuosity necessary to execute these exciting pieces. His Baroque pedigree (Academy of Ancient Music, The Sixteen, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The King's Consort, The Hanover Band, and the Scholars; plus work with Christopher Hogwood, John Elliot Gardener, and William Christie) led him to found and develop an ensemble with "an abundance of style, a crisp esprit de corps, and a palpable affection for its repertoire." (Chicago Tribune)