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Freiburger Barockorchester

The Freiburger Barockorchester (Freiburg Baroque Orchestra) is a period-instrument ensemble focused on the authentic performance of Baroque music, though its repertoire extends into the Classical and Romantic periods as well. The group is mainly led by the concertmaster and often features members of the ensemble as soloists. The Freiburger Barockorchester was founded in 1987 in the German city known as the unofficial "Capital of the Black Forest" by a group of students who shared an interest in playing Baroque music on authentic period instruments. The orchestra performed without a conductor during the first three years of its existence, preferring to select a musician from within its ranks to lead its music on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, in 1990, Thomas Hengelbrock was named joint musical director along with Gottfried von der Goltz, a situation that lasted until 1997, when Hengelbrock stepped down. His place was taken by Petra Müllejans, who lead the Freiburger Barockorchester in tandem with von der Goltz. Müllejans was succeeded by Kristian Bezuidenhout in 2017. The ensemble regularly performs with guest conductors for more expansive works and still often performs without a conductor. The Freiburger Barockorchester tours all over the world and records with frequency; it utilizes distinguished guest conductors on about a quarter of its public concerts, but not on recordings. The orchestra contributed some of the very best recordings to be issued by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi in the waning years of its association with BMG. The group's controversial recording of the J.S. Bach Mass in B minor, led by Hengelbrock and featuring the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor, is perhaps the only recording of this work in recent memory to approach Bach's masterwork from a genuinely new perspective. The Freiburger Barockorchester is also known for its capability accompanying singers, such as Sandrine Piau and Angelika Kirchschlager; the latter appears with the group on a Christmas DVD entitled Sounds Like Christmas. Although it did not accompany Cecilia Bartoli on her recording Opera Proibita, the Freiburger Barockorchester accompanied Bartoli in touring with its program, with Müllejans leading the ensemble. The Freiburger BarockConsort is a chamber group that is drawn from the inner ranks of the Freiburger Barockorchester. Since BMG folded its classical operation in 1999, the Freiburger Barockorchester has appeared on the Virgin, Naïve, and Harmonia Mundi labels, among others. The group earned Ensemble of the Year (Historical Instruments) at the 2012 Echo Klassik Awards. The Freiburger Barockorchester has remained active as a recording group, issuing several albums most years. Among these is an Aparte recording of Mozart's Youth Symphonies in 2019 and a cycle of Beethoven's piano concertos on Harmonia Mundi, with Bezuidenhout as the soloist and Pablo Heras-Casado conducting; the final volume of this set was released in 2022. That year, the Freiburger Barockorchester signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon.
© Uncle Dave Lewis & Keith Finke /TiVo


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