The Rare Fruits Council performs Biber: sonatas equally at home in the chamber as the chapel tam aris quam aulis servientes on Astrée, directed by Manfred Kraemer, violin. Among Biber's collections, this is a colorful group combining string ensemble with trumpets. Passionate motives are intermingled with faster, athletic passages that play off strong harmonies. In this recording the 12 sonatas benefit from a rich continuo ensemble, and dark color. This recording has been lauded by the official press upon its release some years ago. To be praised is the just intonation of the trumpets, and the variation in tempo and dynamic of the excellent Rare Fruits Council. This is some fun music, and it's played extremely well. Good tempo choices all around, and again, some excellent trumpet playing, admirable both for the creamy metallic tone, but also for the blending with strings, and spot-on intonation. These sonatas are not as "listenable" as some by Schmelzer, often paired for similiar texture. Adding trumpets in a home setting is not typical. In a church cathedral, it would be festive. The addition of trumpets helps put the performance of these works--at least what it may have been like in the late 17th century--in context. What sets this particular recording apart is the intensity of playing. I might compare it to a meal overdone with fat. Compare a lean steak with one full of beautiful marbling. A light sauce with intense flavor versus one mounted with butter, richer, creamier, and somehow just a smidgeon more sinful. These works are primarily string ensemble sonatas, built upon Austrian models, that in turn looked towards older Italian models. Various themes are presented in quasi-movements, indicated by shifts in texture of tempo. Some are in fact foot-tapping, and the RFC do their part at keeping the pace going. The title suggests that they are universal in scope, being appropriate for use in church and in chamber. I'm guessing the ones including trumpet parts would be more apt for use in the church. The Gabrieli Consort recorded two of these sonatas with trumpet for their recording of the so-called "Salisburgensis" mass. The sound of trumpet lends these sonatas an almost regal air. One can imagine the sound of rich harmony these sonatas possess when played in a resonant space, with trumpets calling out melodies that carry to listeners far away. Each has shifts of mood, and the Rare Fruits does an excellent job at giving each its time and an appropriate treatment. Compared to other recordings, this one compares well with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra Consort, and betters the Purcell Quartet. Biber done right.