Then Or Now – Live
Notes on Biber’s Passacaglia and its accompanying improvisations.
Passacaglia for solo violin (1676)
Music originally composed by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704)
Arranged & recorded by Daniel Pioro
Biber’s Passacaglia is one of the first surviving pieces for unaccompanied violin and the final movement of the last of his extraordinary Rosary Sonatas. The piece is built over a constantly repeating bass theme of four descending notes (G F E flat D), whose constant presence seems to symbolise the unending watchfulness of the Guardian Angel. There is a great fragility in this work, moments of sparse textures, moments of glee, intensity, wandering, yet always underpinned by those ever present four notes. This is a piece that, for me, has always called to mind a life cycle. No matter what happens, the tempestuous details, the miserable moments and those of absolute joy too, life just flows on and on. I wanted to record this fragility. With Adrienne Rich’s poetry there is no space for perfection, or even of aspiring to it, whatever IT is. But there is room for rawness, honesty, closeness in sound, and I hope that with Ian Dearden’s mastery helping me along, we managed to find this. A truth in sound, as there is a truth in Adrienne’s words. It is a great sadness to me that I could never work with the dancers of Ballet Black but, as I played this piece, I thought of them. Imagined how they may react to my sound and the flow of this ancient music. Felt their movements, as if they were my own.
I would like to thank Will Tuckett for guiding me into my improvisations, and making me feel like I was surrounded by motion, even when I stood alone in front of a microphone in a tiny studio.