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Parnassi musici (Period-Instrument Ensemble)

Founded: Germany

The period instrument ensemble Parnassi musici, whose origins are in the 2nd violin section of the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra in Freiburg, confronts its listeners time and time again with the unexpected, both in terms of its superb musical standards as well as its highly imaginative programming. The members of the ensemble (as of 2008) are Margaret MacDuffie (Violin), Matthias Fischer (Violin), Stephan Schrader (Cello), and Martin Lutz (Harpsichord & Organ). This kernel is augmented from time to time by guest musicians according to the needs of the performed works.

Be it their search for the roots of Igor Stravinsky's Pulcinella, the trio sonatas by Domenico Gallo and their acclaimed CD of them, nominated for the Cannes Classical Awards in 2001; be it their own transcription of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) for the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach's death, which allows the listener to forget the harpsichord for awhile and has been labelled "authentic" by the press; be it the way they bring back to cities like Vienna and towns like Bad Mergentheim their "own" music (long forgotten by them) and return home with words of commendation "superb, loving attention to detail, passionate.."; or whether they join forces with tubist and performance artist Klaus Burger under the motto "The Joy of Repetition" to play a seamless program of repetitive Baroque forms like the chaconne, passacaglia, folia and ground, alternating with improvisation and reaping comments like "the attraction of opposites" and "a concertant exchange of blows"; or their approach to the theme "Women in Music", in which they alternate works by several different 17th century composers based on the same ancient song of mourning (Madre non mi far monaca - Mother, don't make me become a nun.) with compositions by Mother Superior Isabella Leonarda - a surprising juxtaposition of the outside world and that within the convent walls; or how they turn a normal solo partita by J.S. Bach into something "unheard of", in which the performing space plays a role and two violinists are kept busy, occasionally together, without altering a single note.

Accordingly, the group never ceases to amaze experts and their own producer alike with the choice of unknown and underestimated composers for CD productions for the label cpo, often premiere recordings and "encyclopedic" in character. The ensemble has helped making the works of Philipp Friedrich Buchner, Dietrich Becker, Giovanni Battista Tibaldi, Domenico Gallo, Giovanni Benedetto Platti, or Guiseppe Antonio better known by being among the first to perform and record.

A mixture of the experience they have acquired in modern symphony orchestras playing the most modern music, and their expertise in baroque performance practice, combined with plenty of imagination, daring, and the simple joy of playing brings the pure essence of the music to light.

"..the ensemble plays with flexible unity of purpose, imagination, and clear affection for the music." American Record Guide
"..eine perfekte Melange aus mitreißender Spielfreude und Intellektualität, und für den Hörer sowohl emotional höchst ansprechend als auch geistig fordernd." Main-Post
"...les archets lumineux du Parnassi musici dialoguent avec une spontanéité bienvenue." Diapason

Source: Parnassi musici Website
Contributed by
Margaret MacDuffie - Parnassi musici (June 2008)

Recordings of Bach's Instrumental Works




Under their name


BWV 988, arranged for Baroque ensemble by Parnassi musici

Links to other Sites

Parnassi musici (Official Website)


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Last update: Monday, May 29, 2017 16:38