When Antonio Vivaldi gave the title "La Stravaganza" to his Opus 4 of 1716, he had something quite special in mind: it was the first collection of violin concertos in the modern concerto form, a model that has retained its validity to the present day.
There is something quite special about the ensemble Nova Stravaganza (formerly La Stravaganza Hamburg) as well. One thing is its repertoire. It spans two centuries, from the early Baroque to the age of romanticism, and includes not only traditional program favorites but composers whose works have never before been heard in the concert hall or recorded on CD. Among those composers are Anton Adam Bachschmid (1728-1797), Christoph Graupner (1683-1760), Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749), and Johann Melchior Molter (1696-1765). But Nova Stravaganza has also introduced modern audiences to many previously unknown works by prominent composers: Albinoni's Concerti op. 2, for example, or the original versions of J.S. Bach's overtures and George Frideric Handel's Trio Sonatas op. 5. All these CD's have been recorded exclusively for EMI and Virgin since 1990 and for Musikproduktion Dabringhaus & Grimm (MDG) since 2000.
But there is another quite special thing about Nova Stravaganza. Ever since its foundation, in 1988, it has shown that historical sound-ideals and performance techniques, when transferred to the demands and opportunities of our own day, can open up new dimensions and realms of expression, even for well-known composers. Whether Mozart's keyboard instruments or the low French chamber pitch of J.S. Bach's orchestral music for Köthen, whether the figured bass of A. Vivaldi and G.F. Handel, the French manner of holding the bow in dance music, or many other 18th-century orchestral techniques, the musicians of Nova Stravaganza have invariably breathed new life into forgotten traditions, helping to re-establish them as standard practice. The diapason d'or, the Quarterly List of the German Record Critics, and other awards have confirmed the rightness of their interpretative approach: "Has there actually been any progress in the playing of historical instruments? A comparison of the Brandenburg Concertos, as performed by Nova Stravaganza and Siegbert Rampe and their most brilliant predecessors, convinces us that yes, indeed, there has" (Diapason, Paris).
Every musician in this orchestra has taken it upon himself or herself to experiment with and explore past universes of sound and to transfer them to the present. Each is a soloist, a conservatory teacher, and a member of leading ensembles of modern and period instruments, including the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. To work together in Nova Stravaganza, the musicians meet at regular intervals to take part in projects. These projects are then followed by concerts in major European music centers and festivals: Barcelona, Bruges, Eszterháza, Copenhagen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Paris, Schaffhausen, Schleswig-Holstein, and Versailles. "These musicians obviously revel in their playing, and the musical results are as extraordinary and tasteful as they are virtuoso" (Gramophone, London).