Utrecht 2004: Fiddle Noise

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Program: #05-03   Air Date: Jan 10, 2005

All of the music on this program is from a live concert given at the Holland Festival of Early Music at Utrecht 2004 featuring the English Concert directed by violinist Andrew Manze.. This was another concert for the 350th anniversary of the birth of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber illustrating how Biber (and his Salzburg predecessor Schmelzer) advanced the art of the violin.

Paul Janssen writes:

"Still Johann Heinrich Schmelzer and Heinrich Ignaz von Biber are not the first names that spring to mind when ranking the important composers of the Austro-German Baroque. A historical misconception, or so it appears. Once Schmelzer was called ‘the famous and the almost most highly esteemed violinist of the whole of Europe.’ Barely a hundred years after his death Biber was described by Charles Burney in equally flattering terms: ‘Of all the violin players in the last century Biber seems to have been the best, and his solos are of the most difficult and most fanciful of any music I have seen of the same period.’ This praise is understandable. Both Schmelzer and Biber gave violin music a significant impulse. They enriched the violin repertory with unprecedented virtuosic tours de forces, sounds and colours one had not even dreamt of before. More than any other composer in the Bohemian tradition they also developed programme music. Especially Biber wrote instrumental counterpoint that was only equalled in works by Johann Sebastian Bach. Furthermore, both composers made an important contribution to the development of the classical sonata and the baroque suite."

The five sonatas from the Fidicinium which feature on this programme show Biber to be the most important successor of Schmelzer. In these sonatas for violin, two violas, and basso continuo, Biber takes virtuosity even further, all for the benefit of a brilliant musical representation and a highly developed feeling for melody and harmony. It is high time to correct the historical misconception and to include Biber (and Schmelzer with him) in the list of most important composers of the Baroque period

Broadcast of this program is made possible with the generous support of RNW, Radio Netherlands World Service.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber 1644-1704
1. Sonate 1 in b minor 2. Sonate 5 in C major 3. Sonate 11 in c minor (from: Fidicinium sacro-profanum)

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer 1620/23-1680
Die Fechtschule (22.15-31.08)
Aria 1 Aria 2
Bader Aria

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber
5. Sonate 3 in d minor 6. Sonate 7 in D major (from: Fidicinium sacro-profanum)

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer
Serenata con altre arie

Composer Info

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber 1644-1704, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer 1620/23-1680

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