John Holloway BIBER / MUFFAT Der Türken Anmarsch


“Der Türken Anmarsch”, a recording distinguished by extraordinarily inventive and committed performances, marks “the end of an era” for John Holloway. The album brings to a conclusion fourteen years of intensive work on Biber’s music. “I have come to an ever greater admiration of Biber,” Holloway says, “and of his immense contribution to the development of the violin as a serious instrument for Western music.” As with his previous album “Unam Ceylum”, the British violinist and his associates perform pieces from Biber’s 1681 anthology, Sonatae Violino solo, which formed the cornerstone of his reputation. They show how secular and sacred concerns are interwoven in music as arresting and as innovative as the “Mystery Sonatas”.
In the liner notes, Peter Wollny writes: “Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704), chapel-master at Salzburg, has gone down in history as one of the greatest violinists of his age. His astonishing prowess can be seen not only in the demanding violin parts he wrote in his music for instrumental and vocal ensemble, but especially in his many sonatas for solo violin. But Biber, in his compositions, was concerned with more than simply flaunting his extraordinary virtuosity: as he stressed several times in the prefaces to his printed editions, his music was meant to be pervaded - and thereby legitimized - by his compositional skills. In making good this claim, he also acquired the reputation of being one of the supreme composers of his generation.”
Der Türken Anmarsch” takes its title from Biber’s A-Minor Sonata. Some questions remain regarding authorship of parts of the work, for the manuscript is attributed to Schmelzer. Andreas Anton Schmelzer, son of the great violinist composer Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, apparently reworked a piece by Biber to relate it to events of 1683, when the Turks launched an assault on the city of Vienna. Though the programmatic theme – Islam versus Christianity – has lost none of its topicality over three centuries, there is little indication that religious war was on Biber’s mind when he structured the piece. Large parts of the composition clearly stem from Biber’s tenth sonata in the “Mystery Cycle”, intended to depict the crucifixion in the original context.”

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