Music Appreciation

《Sonata Representativa》

Heinrich Biber (1644-1704)

Jacob Stainer, Vi (1656b)、Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Vc (c. 1610)

The composer and violinist Heinrich Biber (1644–1704) was born in Bohemia (in today’s Czech Republic) . In 1670, he settled in Salzburg, Austria, becoming its Kapellmeister, and could be considered the place's most representative musical figure in late 17th century, before the appearance of the child prodigy Mozart. Biber played on a 1668 violin made by the most renowned Austrian luthier of the time, Jacob Stainer (c.1617–c.1683) , who referred to Biber as “the superb virtuoso.” Of Biber, English music historian Charles Burney (1726-1814) once wrote, “Of the violin players of the last century, Biber seems to have been the best….” Composed in 1669 for solo violin and basso continuo, Sonata Representativa is divided into nine passages, following the popular multi-movement form of the time: an introductory Allegro, “Nightingale,” “Cuckoo,” “Frog,” “The Cock and Hen,” “The Quail,” “The Cat,” “Musketeer’s March,” and a “closing Allemande”. In an effort to provide contrast between the sections, composers often apply a variety of methods, including regards to tempo, musical idiom, playing technique, and musical variety, with the most striking feature being Biber’s use of animal names for several sections, and his utilization of various violin techniques in an imitation of animal sounds, including the use of a descending chromatic slide representing the cat’s meow. At the time of composition, Biber was in service in Moravia, with certain sources citing his employer’s preference for program music. It is possible that Biber composed this work in satisfying the whim of his employer. In addition, Biber was one of the founders of the Austro-German school of violin playing. The instrument used in this recording is a Jacob Stainer piece from 1656. Stainer was hailed as the first master luthier in the 400-year-history of the Austro-German school of violin making, and his violin was played by the most outstanding virtuoso of his time, Heinrich Biber.