The Palladian Ensemble has been ranked among the leading chamber groups devoted to performance of early music on original instruments. Its repertory and discography have not only included works by J.S. Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and other well-known Baroque- and Renaissance-era composers, but also lesser figures, such as Jean-Féry Rebel, Marco Uccellini, and Matthew Locke. Many of the ensemble's performances have been of arrangements of famous works, like Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and various Bach sonatas and chorales. It should be noted that the ensemble was scheduled to give its final concerts in May 2007, after which three of the four performers would continue as the Palladian Trio.
There have been four members of the Palladian Ensemble over the years: Pamela Thorby (recorders), Rodolfo Richter (violin), Susanne Heinrich (viola da gamba), and William Carter (theorbo, archlute, guitar). The group has often used guest artists, such as keyboardist Richard Egarr, to perform larger works. It has been active since 1990 with a substantial schedule of concerts that generally draws positive response from critics and public alike. The first recording appeared in 1993, on Linn Records, An Excess of Pleasure, containing music by Matthew Locke and other lesser-known composers.
While the group has experienced much success in both the concert and recording venues in its early years, its breakthrough came in 1996 when it toured as part of a concert series called Rising Stars, sponsored by the European Concert Hall Organization. It played at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Konzerthaus Wien, Frankfurt Alte Oper, and London's South Bank Centre. The group quickly attracted attention throughout much of Europe and developed an international following. The 1997 recording (Vivaldi's) Les Saisons Amusantes, also on Linn, garnered the coveted French Diapason d'Or award, the ensemble's second.
In the ensuing years, the Palladian Ensemble performed at major venues throughout Europe, including Spain, Belgium, and Austria and in the Americas, as well. It has also appeared regularly on BBC Radio 3 and at numerous early music festivals, such as the 2005 Utrecht Early Music Festival. The 2006 schedule included concerts in London, Nottingham, and elsewhere in the U.K., as well as in Austria. Among later recordings was the 2006 CD of J.S. Bach trio sonatas and other works.