"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…"
…Leonhardts first public performance took place in 1950, when he performed J.S. Bach's The Art of the Fugue for a Viennese audience. This marked the beginning of a legendary and influential career that would take him to performance venues all over the world, setting stylistic and interpretive standards for keyboard music dating from the early 1500s to the late 1700s. His treatment of the works of Couperin, Froberger, and Frescobaldi were pivotal in affecting a shift in Baroque performance practice from the motoric to the malleable…
Substantially culled from a couple of earlier secular cantatas, Bach’s 1734 present to the churchgoers of Leipzig revels in such elevated recycling that it’s not impossible Bach had the Christmas Oratorio at the back of his mind from the very start. Stephen Layton unwraps it with all due festive pomp and circumstance. Part V’s ‘Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen’ bowls along with irrepressible ebullience, and the majestic opening of Part V is powered by a confident, striding energy. Yet some tempos play a little safe; Layton’s measured, well-manicured approach may exude a quiet authority, but Masaaki Suzuki’s lightness of touch and René Jacobs’s theatricality give a dash more seasonal sparkle.
It has haunted René Jacobs since childhood: first as a boy soprano in Ghent, then as a countertenor, he has constantly frequented the supreme masterpiece that is the 'St Matthew Passion'. Jacobs uses the layout of the Good Friday Vesper service from Bach's time, with choirs front and back, rather than side-by-side. He also gives us extra soloists to complete the bi-choral effect. For Bach, the two halves were 28 metres apart. At that distance, coordination difficulties begin to appear between the speed of light, and the speed of sound, and we cannot determine how Bach dealt with this problem. However the wonders of SACD multichannel surround sound can at last give an impression of what Bach intended for St Thomas’ Church in Leipzig.
After the success of Così fan tutte and The Marriage of Figaro, René Jacobs' CD recording of this centrepiece of the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy offered us his reflections on Classical opera and garnered serious acclaim worldwide. Performed at the Innsbruck festival in August 2006 and filmed in Baden-Baden, this production is nourished by his thoughts on Don Giovanni as taboo-breaker but still respects Mozart's intentions as closely as possible.
In the documentary Looking for Don Giovanni, the director Nayo Titzin follows the creation of this production in the search for musical truth.
Karl Richter’s recordings of Bach’s orchestral and sacred music influenced an entire generation of musicians and listeners, presenting the conductor’s unique sound and style. When Richter recorded Bach’s works, he freed them from a ponderous tradition that had mired the music in romantic sounds and idiom. Richter lightened Bach’s music, and, with an orchestra of outstanding musicians, helped bring it toward the more modern interpretations that listeners have become familiar with today. This is still a bit far from the historically-informed performances that are pretty much the norm, but there is a unity and natural originality that comes through the music in these recordings.