Balthasar Neumann Ensemble

The Balthasar Neumann Ensemble is made up of top musicians from various countries. Under the artistic direction of Thomas Hengelbrock, the ensemble has built up an excellent reputation in the last few years. Critics consider it one of the most outstanding Baroque ensembles, and stress the exceptional intensity and expressive power of the group’s playing. The ensemble’s repertoire covers every era from the early Baroque to modern, and all works are performed on instruments appropriate to the respective period. The focus of the ensemble’s work is the music of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The ensemble made its highly successful debut in Innsbruck in 1995 with Alessandro Scarlatti’s opera Il Mitridate Eupatore, which they performed again the following year at the Schwetzingen Festival. Since then, the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble has been “ensemble in residence” at the Schwetzingen Festival, which in a co-production with the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden presented Francesco Cavalli’s opera La Didone, and with the Innsbruck Festival the modern revival of Giovanni Legrenzi’s La Divisione del Mondo. The close collaboration with director Achim Freyer has resulted in numerous productions, most recently Joseph Haydn’s L’Anima del Filosofo and Mozart’s Zauberflöte, both under the baton of Thomas Hengelbrock.
A special feature is the acting ability of the individual members, which they have already displayed repeatedly, for example in Monteverdi’s opera L’Orfeo, performed at the Vienna Festwochen, or the staged performance “Italian Carnival Music” in which the ensemble participates in the masquerades and carnival scenes on the stage.

The Balthasar Neumann Ensemble and Choir work very closely together. They made guest appearances in 2001 with Haydn’s Creation at renowned summer festivals and undertook a tour with J. S. Bach’s B minor Mass in 2002. Since 1998 the South-West German Radio has sponsored a concert series with the Choir and Ensemble. Under the motto “Abenteuer Musik” (The Adventure of Music), they lead the listener on a voyage of discovery through the 17th and 18th centuries. During the 2000/2001 season, works “From the Music Library of J. S. Bach” were performed, which afforded a glance into Bach’s occupation with the works of his time. In 2003 the ensemble will play unknown music by Alessandro Grandi and Francesco Cavalli.

In 2002 the ensemble performed a program of Italian opera scenes, under the direction of concertmaster Daniel Sepec, and went on tour with Vivaldi’s Seasons. For the first time the ensemble commissioned a work: Johannes Harneit composed three intermezzi to Vivaldi’s Seasons, which were premiered at the 2002 Feldkirch Festival. The ensemble is “ensemble in residence” at the Feldkirch Festival, where they performed Monteverdi’s Orfeo and Schumann’s Manfred under the baton of Thomas Hengelbrock in 2002; in 2003 they performed Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and Händel’s Messiah and gave the premiere performance of the melodrama King of the Night by Jan Müller-Wieland with the actor Klaus Maria Brandauer. In September 2003, the ensemble is going to play Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden.