Splendid and ambitious, the Harmonia artificiosa is a work that reveals all the talent of its composer and marks the nascent virtuosity of the violin. A collection of seven sonatas for string instruments and continuo, it is the last work composed by Heinrich Biber. He dedicated it to his daughter, Rosa Henrica, who was then on her way to the Benedictine convent of Nonnberg.
The scordatura, a violin revolution
This piece symbolises a turning point in the evolution of violin playing. It uses the scordatura technique. For each sonata, Biber prescribes different violin tunings, sometimes deviating considerably from the usual settings, varying the tension of the strings and leading to a new tonal differentiation of these instruments.
The scordatura changes the fingering of the instrumentalist and his way of playing and brings fuller sounds, richer in harmonic notes. With it, new sound experiences are possible. There is no doubt that Biber poses an interpretive challenge to the players here, demanding a clean and consistent quality. This Harmonia artificiosa is a tour de force and is the culmination of this technical and stylistic research. With it, the violin takes a new place in the string family.
In our programme, the work is accompanied by a Sonata da chiesa by Arcangelo Corelli, and a trio sonata “Perseverantia” by Georg Muffat, both contemporaries of Biber, and who tinged their music with the various influences and techniques that were sweeping through Europe at that time. Between them, Biber, Corelli and Muffat achieved a synthesis of “united tastes”.