Acclaimed as the greatest violinist of the 17th century, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber left his mark as a composer, too, penning some of the most adventurous music for his instrument of any period. His "Rosary" sonatas -- a set of solo works that describe events in the lives of Jesus and Mary -- are justly celebrated, and the group of seven partitas called Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa, each for dual soloists and continuo, have attracted admirers over the centuries as well. As in the sonatas, Biber's partitas call for extensive scordatura (atypical tuning) -- only the final one uses the traditional method -- creating timbral variety that is enhanced by a diversity of instruments: piccolo violins, viola, and violas d'amore, in addition to violins and continuo (played here by harpsichord and cello). Cast in multiple contrasting movements, the partitas also profit from the composer's harmonic verve and the lively interplay of the two melodic parts, which match each other in virtuosic display. In the CD booklet, violinist and director of Musica Antiqua Köln Reinhard Goebel admits to having "brooded on these partitas for thirty long years," but there's nothing stale about his performance. Well matched with violinists Stephan Schardt and (in the Fourth Partita) Karlheinz Steeb, Goebel brings his customary liveliness to the music, offering a vital and rhythmically spirited traversal of these Baroque gems. And while the musicians avoid the overheated playing of their chief competition, a recording from the oddly named Rare Fruits Council, arias and dances, preludes and passacaglias spring to life in their hands. A must for Baroque buffs.