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.
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Classical - Released February 26, 2009 | Alpha
One of the darkest corners of Tomaso Albinoni's worklist is his chamber music. Albinoni's Opus 2, published in 1700, is particularly problematical, as half of its 12 numbers are chamber sonatas and the other half consists of concertos, chamber concertos to be sure, but the very word concerto is often taken automatically to mean orchestral music. There is a longstanding tradition of playing this music, even the sonatas, as though it were orchestral music, and at least two recorded editions of all 12 pieces -- by Claudio Scimone and I Solisti Veneti in the 1970s and the Insieme strumentale di Roma in the 1990s -- that make no major distinction between what is a concerto and what is a sonata. Chiara Banchini and her Ensemble 415 will have none of that; on the Zig Zag Territories recording Albinoni: Sinfonie a Cinque, Op. 2, Banchini decides to isolate the sonatas only from the published set and perform them in an unmistakably chamber-oriented setting, and the result is the best Albinoni recording since the Locatelli Trio recorded works taken from Opp. 4 and 6 for Hyperion back in the early '90s. Albinoni's Op. 2 is a critically important publication; it was a major building block of Venetian Baroque style and was well known to Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach; it represents, in many ways, the next step forward from the work of Arcangelo Corelli. While Albinoni's effort is essentially popularly oriented, he fashions these pieces out of technical resources more commonly associated with serious composition; internal canons, fugal procedures, imitation (a favorite technique of Albinoni's even in concertos), and so forth. The music is harmonically lush, rhythmically dynamic, and compositionally solid as rock, and the ensemble dimensions of Ensemble 415 are just the right fit for it. The performances are emotionally responsive and strive for a beautiful ensemble blend; they are exquisite overall, although careful ears might detect some confusion in the theorbo part in the Largo of the Sonata No. 5 in B flat. Nevertheless, if you've ever wondered where J.S. Bach got the idea for the second Allegro in the Third Brandenburg Concerto, you need look no further than the one that concludes Sonata No. 5 in this set. If that's not enticement enough, suffice it is to say Zig Zag Territories' Albinoni: Sinfonie a Cinque, Op. 2, is urgently recommended for those afflicted with a taste of high-quality Baroque music and will happily appeal to less specialized musical interests who just want to hear something pleasing, yet substantial. © TiVo