Tallis in Wonderland
Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society – Ensemble Prize, 2005.
I Fagiolini was founded in 1986 at Oxford University. In 1988 the group won the UK Early Music Network’s Young Artists’ Competition and has since released fifteen CDs and two DVDs. It gives about 50 concerts a year from the BBC Proms and major European festivals to further afield such as the USA, Far East and both ends of Africa. Its unusual name has been misspelt, mispronounced and misunderstood throughout the world.
“Like their concerts the disc is lively, imaginative, even anarchic… and a lot of fun.” BBC Music Magazine
I Fagiolini’s core repertoire is Renaissance and contemporary solo-voice ensemble repertoire. In recent years it has pioneered innovative staged presentations through its Theatre of Music project, including The Full Monteverdi and Tallis in Wonderland.
“Pure cabaret …the sort of entertainment that could bring entirely new audiences to early music.” Early Music Review (UK)
As well as working within the major European festivals, I Fagiolini tours worldwide, often as ambassadors for the British Council. In 1998, with the SDASA Chorale of Soweto, it released a partly improvised album, Simunye, released on Warner’s crossover label. The experience had a great effect on both groups and Simunye has since been toured to Europe, Bermuda and back to South Africa.
“These young singers are so at home in their own skins that the musical crossovers they create are as natural as the ocean tide.” Business Day (South Africa)
Other collaborations include solo-voice performances of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers with various ensembles, CDs of Byrd with viol consorts Fretwork and Concordia, Bach with Academy of Ancient Music, Handel and Purcell with the The Harmony of Nations, and ‘Ancient & Modern’ with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Oscar-winning composer Anne Dudley.
“Wonderfully authentic period feel… a fascinating and compulsively watchable theatrical experience.” The Stage (UK)
I Fagiolini records with Chandos, focussing on Italian and English Renaissance repertoire, notably in its new Monteverdi series. It is a regular contributor to BBC programmes and has appeared three times at the BBC Proms. It also has a rising education profile taking in all ages, from adult masterclasses at the Dartington International Summer School to workshops funded by the National Foundation of Youth Music.
“An irrepressible force in the early music world, bringing bags of style, energy and dramatic excitement to everything they touch.” International Record Review
I Fagiolini’s performances of pre-classical music are historically informed but at the same time aim to bring the spirit of the music to life for today’s audience. For example, almost nothing is known of how Spanish ensaladas were performed at the 16th century Valencian court. They may or may not have been performed as mini-theatre pieces but they work well that way and give us a much clearer feel for the spirit behind them.
“[I Fagiolini] has carved out a niche for itself exploring some more ‘off-the-wall’ corners of early music in a style that is at once true to the period but communicative to today’s listener.” Daily Telegraph (UK)