Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber: Battalia a 10 in D major, C. 61 – Jordi Savall, Le Concert des Nations

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644~1704)

Battalia à 10 D-dur, C.61 (1673)
(für 3 Violinen, 4 Bratschen [oder Viola da braccio], 2 Violonen, Basso Continuo)

00:00 – 1. Allegro: Sonata
01:43 – 2. Allegro: “Die liederliche Gesellschaft von allerey Humor”
02:31 – 3. Presto
03:19 – 4. “Der Mars”
04:25 – 5. Presto
06:00 – 6. Aria
09:51 – 7. “Die Schlacht”
10:35 – 8. Adagio: “Lamento der Verwundten Musquetirer”

– Le Concert des Nations –

Manfredo Kraemer (Baroque Violin, I)
Pablo Valetti (Baroque Violin, II)
Mauro Lopes (Baroque Violin, III)
Angelo Bartoletti (Viola da braccio, part I)
Natan Paruzel (Viola da braccio, part II)
Sergi Casademunt (Viola da gamba, part III)
Imke David (Viola da gamba, part IV)
Maya Amrein (Bass Violin)
Xavier Puertas (Violone, I)
Michele Zeoli (Violone, II)
Xavier Díaz (Theorbo)
Eduardo Egüez (Baroque Guitar)
Luca Guglielmi (Harpsichord)
Carlos García-Bernalt (Organ)

Performed by Le Concert des Nations
Conducted by Jordi Savall

– Biber’s Battalia a 10 in D major –

Heinrich Biber (1644-1704) was born in Prague and later spent 24 years in Salzburg serving as Kapellmeister for the Court of the archbishop of Salzburg. Biber was described by noted violinmaker Jacob Stainer as “the outstanding virtuoso Herr Biber”. Well known as a great violinist, he became best known as a composer of violin works, many of which employ scordatura (unconventional tunings of the violin strings). His “Rosary Sonatas” consisting of 16 sonatas, had each movement with a different tuning of the open strings. Biber’s music used much canonic devises and diverse harmonic ideas that predate the later Baroque works of Pachelbel and J.S. Bach. Some of these compositional ideas included polytonality and col legno.

Battalia, edited by Wisconsin native Joel Blahnik, was written in 1673 during the Baroque era. Some historians have attributed this work as Biber’s feelings toward the Thirty Year War. This was a religious war fought from 1618-1648 involving most of Europe. It began as a conflict between Protestants and Catholics and spread throughout many European countries. The war often used mercenary armies and created much famine and disease that devastated many countries. Biber might have expressed serious emotions about the war as it was recorded that almost half the male population of German states and over a third of the Czechs were killed. Biber grew up in the Czech area and spent his adulthood in the German state of Austria. Battalia seems to be a statement about all aspects of war, including statements about the social and historical impact of war and the toll on humanity.

– Analysis –

Battalia is often translated as “a body of troops” or simply as “battle.” This piece is dedicated to Bacchus, god of wine, vegetation and theatre. This immediately suggests notions of absurdity to both player and listener. Biber uses many non-traditional musical techniques including striking the bow on the instrument, woven paper through strings, and Ives-like polytonality.

2nd Movement – “The Profligate Society of Common Humor” (The troops have gathered in one location, each in their own campsite) The form consists of 8 different songs each starting at a different tim.
The harmony is polytonality as the 8 melodies are in 7 different keys. ☞ D, c, d, F, A, G, e
The rhythmic intensity is created by using polyrhythm.
One section is in 12/8 time and the others in 4/4 time.
I interpret this movement as each mercenary group having it’s own nationalistic
song and every group is singing at the same time in the same campsite

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