Ensemble 415 is a chamber ensemble devoted largely to the performance of Baroque music on period instruments. The numerical reference in the group's name derives from the pitch used for tuning instruments in the Baroque era. In performing chamber music, Ensemble 415 consists of just a few players, but for larger compositions, the number expands to a minimum of 13 and can reach up to as high as 40 performers. The ensemble's repertory has been broad over the years, taking in many Baroque standards by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel, as well as lesser known fare by Muffat and others. But the group is really best known for its interpretations of the works by the Italian masters: Corelli, Boccherini, Bononcini, Geminiani, Albinoni, Sammartini, Valentini, and a spate of others. The group has also extended its repertory into the Classical era to include works by Haydn and Mozart. Ensemble 415 concertize at a variety of venues in Switzerland, France, and Germany during the concert season, including at the Lausanne opera house, Victoria Hall (Geneva), Komische Oper (Berlin), the theaters in Caen and Poissy (France), and the Clermont-Ferrand Opera (France). It also regularly appears at music festivals like the Utrecht Early Music Festival, Copenhagen Early Music Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival, and countless others. It has regularly toured throughout Europe, Asia, and South America and has made numerous acclaimed recordings for such labels as Harmonia Mundi, Zig-Zag Territoires, Erato, Accent, and Astrée.
Ensemble 415 was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1981 by virtuoso Baroque violinist Chiara Banchini, who from the beginning has served as the group's artistic director and conductor. The ensemble quickly drew attention from both critics and public alike, and by the mid-'90s, when its recording of Vivaldi's Stabat Mater (1996) was released by Harmonia Mundi, the group had achieved international notice.
The first recording for the French label Zig-Zag Territoires, a disc of Valentini concertos, was given the prestigious Diapson d'Or Award in 2002. In the new century the group's tours have included concerts in Australia, Singapore, Turkey, Russia, and Slovenia, as well as major cities throughout Europe. Ensemble 415's March 2010, tour of Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, with soprano soloist Cristina Kiehr and featuring music by Boccherini, was a great critical success. Among the ensemble's later recordings is the 2010 Harmonia Mundi CD of Tartini concertos, with cellist Roel Dieltiens and violinist Enrico Gatti.