“The exquisite rhythmic spontaneity seems to be the hallmark of this excellent ensemble.”
(The New York Times, April 2016)
Accademia Bizantina was founded in Ravenna in 1983 with the intention of “making music like a large quartet”. Then as now, the group is managed autonomously by its guardian members, guaranteeing the chamber music approach to their performances which has ever been their distinguishing feature.
A number of prominent personalities in the musical world supported the orchestra’s development and growth, among them Jorg Demus, Carlo Chiarappa, Riccardo Muti and Luciano Berio. Over the years they have also enjoyed the collaboration of many fine musicians, among them Stefano Montanari who was an integral part of the orchestra for over 20 years. This has allowed the ensemble, which plays on period instruments, to become ever more specialised in 17th, 18th and 19th-century repertoire. Gradually the orchestra developed a distinguished voice by adopting its own interpretative style based on a common language and shared performance practice, reflecting the noblest tradition of Italian chamber music.
In 1989 Ottavio Dantone joined the group as harpsichordist and in 1996 he was appointed musical and artistic director, guaranteeing the prestige and artistic quality of the ensemble. Under his expert guidance Accademia Bizantina has merged philological research and an aesthetic approach to the interpretation of music from the Baroque period. Dantone’s competence, imagination and sophistication have united with the enthusiasm and artistic empathy of each member of the group, giving their interpretations the depth which makes them one of the most prestigious ensembles on the international musical scene today.
In 1999 Accademia Bizantina performed their first staged opera, Giuseppe Sarti’s “Giulio Sabino”. The orchestra has gone on to specialise in the rediscovery and performance of Baroque operas, ranging from major works to operas which have never been performed in modern times.
The ensemble performs in concerts halls and festivals worldwide. Their many recordings, most notably for Decca, Harmonia Mundi and Naïve, have won numerous awards including the Diapason d’Or, Midem and a Grammy Music Award nomination for Purcell’s “O Solitude” with Andreas Scholl. Of particular significance are their collaborations with violinists Viktoria Mullova and Giuliano Carmignola and with countertenor Andreas Scholl with whom they have had major international tours and recording projects (for Onyx, Deutsche Grammophon, Harmonia Mundi and Decca).
In September 2018 their CD “Agitata” recorded with Delphine Galou won the Gramophone Award as best recital of the year.
“There was also a jazzy quality to the ensemble’s playing as a whole, with seemingly intuitive interplay between the members. The two cellists and the bassist often took on the role of a rhythm section, playing with percussive, resonant bow strokes.”
(The New York Times)
“The concertmaster Alessandro Tampieri played with a sweet and zesty sound — and, once again, with the exquisite rhythmic spontaneity that seems to be the hallmark of this excellent ensemble.”
(The New York Times)
“Ethereal yet visceral, Scholl’s voice is the dream vehicle for Purcell… Stefano Montanari coaxes thrilling playing from Accademia Bizantina, who dance and swagger, throb and pulsate with true Latin passion. Their continuto realisations — here delicate and intimate, there audaciously jazzy — are an unceasing delight.”
(Review of O Solitude disc, BBC Music Magazine)
“Scholl understands the importance of words and remains the countertenor of choice: it’s not so much the intelligence and grace that make his artistry so instantly recognisable, as the hypnotically soothing quality of his voice which, even after 15 years at the top, remains in peak condition… Among the many joys of this exceptional recital are the accompaniments by Accademia Bizantina.”
(Review of O Solitude disc, Financial Times)
“…And it is once again a great pleasure to hear Accademia Bizantina with Ottavio Dantone playing with a precision and awareness that has nothing to fear by comparisons with foreign ensembles. Just listen to the freshness of their sound, the aplomb of the most evident entries, and the imagination they show in the art of diminution in the ritornelli…”
(Il Giornale della Musica)
“…one of the best ensembles operating in the interpretation of the Italian musical production through the 17th and 18th century.”