Ensemble Cristofori

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Ensemble Cristofori has devised performances and recordings of Classical and early Romantic music that are not only historically informed, but radically innovative.
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Ensemble Cristofori, named for Bartolomeo Cristofori, the creator of the piano, offers historically informed readings of Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic music, accessible but undergirded by careful research into sound, balance, continuo practice, and improvisation. International in makeup, the group's membership varies according to the music being performed: it has ranged from a duo to a large instrumental-choral ensemble, and it remains among the comparatively few early music groups to have recorded a complete cycle of Beethoven's piano concertos, including what it terms the "Piano Concerto No. 6": the piano arrangement of the Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61. That performance, with a very small instrumental ensemble that reveals the role of the solo part in the contrapuntal web, illustrates the innovation Ensemble Cristofori often brings to its performances and recordings.

The ensemble was formed the early 2000s in Besançon, France, by the Dutch fortepianst Arthur Schoonderwoerd, a student of Jos van Immerseel at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique in Paris. In 1995 he won a first prize at that institution, and since 2004 he has taught at the Barcelona Conservatory. That year, Ensemble Cristofori released its first recording, of largely unknown Dutch piano concertos from around the year 1800. The group's early recordings, including the Beethoven set, were released on France's Alpha label, which has paired music with analyses of historically related artwork. In 2012 it moved to the Accent label, releasing a sequence of Mozart keyboard concerto recordings as well as a reading of Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K. 626, with the Gesualdo Consort in 2018. Schoonderwoerd was the keyboard soloist on both the Beethoven and Mozart concerto releases. Ensemble Cristofori's performances in the 2000s and 2010s have drawn on more than 50 separate concert programs, covering music of the 18th and 19th centuries both with and without fortepiano. The group has toured Europe, Russia, and South Africa, and Schoonderwoerd's classes in Barcelona have funneled new performers to the ensemble.