The 17th Century Bohemian / Austrian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber is best known for his works for solo violin, especially the Mystery Sonatas. However, he also wrote a considerable amount of music for string ensemble, including a set of 12 chamber sonatas subtitled Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum which was first published in Nuremberg in 1683. The title refers to the fact that the music in the sonatas combine sacred and secular styles.
In his collection Biber set new standards in the field of string chamber music. In the first part he composes for a five-part string ensemble: two violins, two violas, violone and basso continuo, a combination that was established at his time as the standard ensemble in Austrian cultural circles.
In a richly coloured setting, Biber artfully weaves a polyphonic texture that allows the voices to alternate and come to the fore.
In the second part of this collection he dispenses with the five-part arrangement hitherto predominant in Austria and focuses on augmenting the flexibility of the four individual parts.
The present recording of Biber’s twelve chamber sonatas Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum is performed by Harmonie Universelle under its director Florian Deuter.