This article is from 2007.
Led by Chiara Banchini, regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on baroque music, Ensemble 415 make their debut at this year’s International Festival, as Carol Main reports
It’s not unheard of for groups of musicians to give themselves identities that have something to do with numbers. The Sixteen, for instance, take their name from the regular quota of their singers. Or there’s New York’s Ensemble 21, whose contemporary instrumental repertoire is very much of the 21st century. But Ensemble 415?
The number is unlikely to be a group comprising that many performers, and even for early music enthusiasts, the year 415 is, well, just a bit too early. 415 does in fact refer to the pitch that the group – in common with most period performance ensembles – plays at. Modern orchestras play at least a semi-tone higher, with the resulting different sound that comes from what is accepted concert pitch of A being tuned at 440hz.
Founded and led by Chiara Banchini, the Swiss-born violinist who is recognised as one of the world’s top baroque experts, the virtuosic and flamboyant Ensemble 415 make their Edinburgh debut with her in a programme of Italian music of the baroque era.
‘She is not only a superstar performer but also an academic and really knows her stuff,’ says the Festival’s artistic administrator, Matthew Studdert-Kennedy. ‘The Ensemble was started in 1981 and several great period performers have come through their ranks.
‘She has also taught a generation of Baroque instrumentalists, and although not widely known in this country, Banchini is definitely a familiar name in Europe.’
It is not only Banchini’s name which will impress Edinburgh audiences. The instrument she plays is a priceless violin made by Nicola Amati in 1694, his last instrument, and a star in its own right.
Queen’s Hall, 473 2000, 27 Aug , 11am, £6–£25.50.