I’ve previously enjoyed several discs of Les Passions de l’Ame and Meret Lüthi’s explorations of the music of Heinrich Biber. On this new two-disc release they tackle his Harmonia Artificioso-Ariosa , a large collection of music for two soloists and continuo. Of course, Biber’s music is famous (or perhaps infamous?) for the use of scordatura , requiring the players to retune their instruments for each and every set of pieces. It really does change the timbre of the pieces quite a lot – there’s a world of difference from the rich darkness of the Partia II in B Minor (B-F#-B-D tuning) to the bright precision of the Partia III in A Major (A-E-A-E), for instance.

Heinrich Biber

Meret Lüthi and her co-soloist Sabine Stoffer (and violist Anja-Regine Graewel on Partia IV) work terrifically well together, their playing full of the sort of familiarity you only find in performances by musicians who’ve worked together consistently. The rest of the ensemble are no slouches either. Biber’s music certainly isn’t easy to play,...