Biber's dinner music
If you think of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Von Biber (love that name) mostly as a composer of large-scaled polychoral works and gnarly music for solo violin, his Mensa Sonora is going to surprise you. Mensa Sonora, or Ã¢â‚¬Å“sounding table,Ã¢â‚¬Â is a set of instrumental suites or Ã¢â‚¬Å“ParsÃ¢â‚¬Â for dining Ã¢â‚¬â€œ think of the French Symphonies pour les soupers du Roy or TelemannÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Tafelmusik and you will get the picture. While the music is not as challenging as some of BiberÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s other instrumental suites Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Harmonia artificiosa or Sonatae tam aris quam aulis servientes come to mind Ã¢â‚¬â€œ there is plenty of melodic and rhythmic invention that raises the music to something more than Baroque Muzak. The CD is rounded out by BiberÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s programmatic Battalia, a work filled with such special effects as knocking on the violin in some passages and playing 8 folk songs all in different keys at the same time! ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s boozy fun. The performances are excellent. The Chicago-based Baroque Band eschews the typical one-on-a-part style with a larger ensemble and it serves the larger-scaled passages well. While I prefer the raucous Concentus Musicus Wien performance of Battalia, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really a treat to hear such a full-bodied performance of the Mensa Sonora.
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