Swiss violinist Chiara Banchini is the co-founder and leader of the period instrument group Ensemble 415, which takes its name from the pitch recommended in old Baroque-era treatises for the note A below middle C: 415 cycles per second. Banchini was born in Lugano, Switzerland and graduated from the Geneva Conservatory. Afterwards, Banchini studied with violinist Sandor Végh, but in the meantime had developed an interest in Baroque violin techniques and decided to further her studies with Belgian violinist Sigiswald Kuijken at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Upon earning her diploma, Banchini accepted a teaching post at the Centre for Early Music in Geneva, and at this time she began to appear on the concert circuit as a solo artist. After Banchini relocated from Geneva to the Schola Cantorum in Basel in 1981, in her own words she "felt the need to fill a vacuum in the Swiss musical vista" and formed Ensemble 415, her period instrument orchestra playing at Baroque pitch, rather than at the modern A of 440 cycles per second. The band attracted an immediate following as a live group, but did not develop an international reputation until it reached an exclusive recording agreement with the French label Harmonia Mundi in 1989. In 1992 Banchini and Ensemble 415 scored a critical and commercial hit with their recording of Arcangelo Corelli's Concerti grossi, Op. 6. Even more popular, and to date the most famous of Ensemble 415's recordings, was the 1996 release of the Stabat Mater of Antonio Vivaldi with guest vocalist Andreas Scholl, who later toured with Ensemble 415 in this work and became a star in his own right. Banchini has also recorded for the labels Erato, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Virgin, Accent, Astreé, and for the Zig Zag Territories label. Banchini plays a Nicola Amati violin, which was handcrafted in Italy in 1674.
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released January 1, 2006 | harmonia mundi
Distinctions Diapason d'or - The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Supremely lovely and deeply beautiful, the performances on this two-disc set devoted to the music of Luigi Boccherini are compelling proof that the Italian-Spanish composer was more than a Rococo bantam weight. Beyond his well-known Minuet, Fandango, and "La Ritirada di Madrid" and his enormous number of cheerful cello concertos and sonatas written for the cello-playing Spanish king, Boccherini was also a composer of quartets, quintets, symphonies, and sacred works that rival those of his contemporary Haydn. This coupling of four symphonies, a string quintet, and the Stabat Mater by the Ensemble 415 led from the violin by Chiara Banchini is a wonderful introduction to Boccherini's art. In the three-movement symphonies, Banchini leads strong but sensitive performances that bring out the music's lyrical themes, subtle colors, and elegant shapes. With sweet-voiced soprano Agnés Mellon, Banchini finds within a strict sequence of recitatives and arias the sorrow, pity, and unshakable faith in the Stabat Mater. But perhaps best of all is the Quintet in C minor, Op. 31/4. The immensity of its grief, the austerity of its themes, and the intensity of expression is musically and emotionally overwhelming. Recorded in 1988 and 1991 in Harmonia Mundi's clearest, coolest sound, this two-disc set should be heard by anyone with an interest in music in the second half of the eighteenth century. © TiVo
Classical - Released August 1, 1994 | harmonia mundi