A devotional dance through the Rosaries

Amandine Beyer: Biber

The Strad Issue: April 2023

Description: A devotional dance through the Rosaries

Musicians: Amandine Beyer (violin) Gli Incogniti

Works: Biber: Mystery Sonatas

Catalogue number: HARMONIA MUNDI HMM90271213 (2CDs)

Biber’s Rosary (or Mystery) Sonatas may present a veritable maelstrom of scordatura and virtuosic passagework challenges, but when we’re talking top modern artists, what’s actually going to make you cleave to, or flee from, a recording, is down to how deeply its violinist has entered this Passion narrative’s emotional world. Rachel Podger has a graceful, slightly removed ‘Evangelist’ approach; Andrew Manze stands darkly, viscerally at the foot of the cross itself. Now Amandine Beyer sits somewhere between the two, with plenty of human emotion, but a present-day perspective, marvelling retrospectively with gratitude – no doubt because an additional, critical interpretative influence has been dance, the project having started as a collaboration with the Rosas dance company.

The pain is therefore less sharp, and the darkness less bleak, than with Manze; listen to their respective preludes in the First Sonata, ‘The Annunication’ or their arias from the Tenth, ‘The Crucifixion’. Yet Beyer’s passion and theatricality are still potent: just sample the blistering urgency of the Finale of no.1, the thunder of no.10’s Adagio or the impassioned contemplation of the Passacaglia that concludes the cycle.

These are heartfelt devotional dances whose story Beyer articulates with easy fluidity and subtle shadings, to symbiotic continuo support. The recording has a nice spaciousness to it, giving this account a wide appeal.


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