Vox Luminis - Biber: Requiem - All Music
The Requiem in F minor of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber has been recorded several times. Some look in it for the radical qualities of other Biber works like the Mystery Sonatas, but it is a sober, transparent piece in a rather conservative style, and the warm, direct performance here by the Vox Luminis vocal ensemble and the small Freiburger BarockConsort is optimal. These ensembles, though separate, have worked together for a long time, and the smoothness of their work under Vox Luminis director Lionel Meunier is notable. Another attraction for hardcore Baroque listeners is the group of other works that frame the Biber, none of them often heard even in early music circles. The composers come from various places, from Vienna to northern Germany, and one might wonder what they have to do with Biber. In fact, they all fall into the same style world as the Requiem. They make use of what the early 17th century called the prima pratica, meaning that they are extensions of the Renaissance style with lots of polyphony and a deliberate, steady harmonic rhythm. They fit very well with the Biber and have the same advantages in performance as the Requiem. An added attraction is the fully idiomatic sound from the Eglise Saint-Jean L'Evangéliste in Beaufays, Belgium. A typically strong outing from this unique pairing makes even a quite obscure repertory accessible to general audiences.