Concerto Köln – 30 Years on the Cutting Edge of Early Music
Passionate performance style and the uninterrupted desire to seek out the unfamiliar continue to be the trademarks of Concerto Köln. With its unique sound, the orchestra has held its rank among the leading ensembles for historically informed performance practice for over 30 years. With regular appearances at renowned festivals and in the great music capitals around the world, Concerto Köln is synonymous not only with outstanding interpretations of Early Music on an international level but also with its deep roots in Cologne's own musical scene. A testament to this is the continuation of the productive collaboration with the celebrated Countertenor, Valer Sabadus, at the grand anniversary concert on December 20th in the Cologne Philharonic Hall.
Further highlights in the current season 2015/16 include an extensive tour of Germany with the soprano, Julia Lezhneva and projects with Giuliano Carmignola, Mahan Esfahani, Christoph and Julian Prégardien as well as with the Bavarian Radio Choir under the baton of Peter Dijkstra. Guest performances lead Concerto Köln to Norway, France, Switzerland and to the Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam where work on Händel's “Ariodante” together with Andrea Marcon begins. Furthermore, the ensemble is engaged by the Audi Summer Concert Series for the concertante performance of Mozart's “Idomeneo” to be conducted by Kent Nagano and in the following spring, will perform the premiere of Cavalli's “Veremonda” under the baton of Gabriel Garrido at the Schwetzinger Festspiele.
As members of a self-governed orchestra, the musicians carry an exceptionally high degree of responsibility for the success of Concerto Köln. Mayumi Hirasaki and Shunske Sato as regular concertmasters as well as Lorenzo Alpert as Artistic Director play a key role in the internal decision-making process. Artistic projects such as CD recordings or concert tours as well as the selection of musical partners is discussed and decided within the orchestra. The musicians manage to prove time and time again that artistic demands do not have to conflict with popular success.
Among the notable conductors with which Concerto Köln has recently collaborated include prominent names such as Ivor Bolton, Pablo Heras-Casado, Daniel Harding, Marcus Creed as well as Laurence Equilbey and Emmanuelle Haïm. The long-standing collaboration with René Jacobs is documented by several award-winning CD recordings including Mozart's “Così fan tutte”, Handel's “Saul” and Graun's “Cleopatra e Cesare”. By now, the ensemble is able to boast a discography of over 70 recordings, the majority of which are distinguished with awards such as the ECHO Klassik, the Grammy Award, the German Record Critics Award, the MIDEM Classic Award, the Choc du Monde de la Musique, the Diapason d’Année and the Diapason d’Or. Since 2008, Concerto Köln maintains close ties with the label, Berlin Classics, but also remains active with additional labels. The latest CD with works by Avison and Scarlatti joins the tradition of rediscoveries and helps in contributing to the renaissance of long-lost composers such as Joseph Martin Kraus, Evaristo Felice dall'Abaco and Henir-Joseph Rigel. The acclaimed, multiple award-winning rediscovery of Vinci's “Artaserse” (Virgin) with Philippe Jaroussky, France Fagioli, Max Emanuel Cencic and Valer Sabadus assuming the main roles, attracted international attention. The recently released recordings – Bach's violin concertos with Giuliano Carmignola (Archiv), violin concertos by Haydn with Midori Seiler (Berlin Classics) as well as Mahan Efahani's project, “Time Present and Time Past” that combines Scarlatti and Bach with Gorecki and Steve Reich – are further testimony to Concerto Köln's wide stylistic range. Furthermore, the “Brandenburg Concertos” released in 2014 (Berlin Classics) rose to critical acclaim.
Further artistic partners of Concerto Köln include messo-sopranos Cecilia Bartoli and Vivica Genaux, sopranos Simone Kermes, Nuria Rial, Rosemary Joshua and Johannette Zomer, countertenors Andreas Scholl, Maarten Engeltjes, Bejun Mehta and Coarlos Mena, tenors Werner Güra, Christoph and Julian Prégardien, pianists Andreas Staier and Alexander Melnikov, violinist Giuliano Carmignola as well as the Ensemble Sarband, the Bathasar-Neumann Choir, the WDR, NDR and BR choirs, the Collegium Vocale Gent, the Swedish Radio Choir, the Regensburger Domspatzen, the RIAS Chamber Choir, Accentus and Arsys de Bourgogne.
As a cultural ambassador of the European Union (2012), the orchestra also acts as a musical figurehead for Cologne and its province, North Rhein-Westphalia. For the realization of its ideas, the ensemble is able to rely on the support of numerous partners: The Ministry of Family, Youth, Culture and Sport of the Province of North Rhine-Westphalia as well as the Arts Foundation NRW and the Goethe Institute help to support the ensemble in its research and realization of musical projects. The RheinEnergie Foundation for Culture and the Foundations of the Kreissparkasse Köln play a significant supporting role in the musical education project, “Die Hörpiraten”. TÜV Rheinland aids in supporting the concert series, AfterWorkClassix, in which Concerto Köln presents an unusual program with rediscovered works. In addition, a close partnership with the High End Audio specialists, MBL, was established in 2009 and has provided the orchestra the opportunity to intensively preoccupy itself with sound and the reproduction of recordings.
Cologne, September 2015
Translation: Jennifer Smyth