The Italian violinist and conductor, Fabio Biondi, is one of the most important and influential figures of the Baroque period-instrument movement. He studied the violin with both Salvatore Cicerto and Mauro lo Guercio before making his concerto debut with the Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra at the age of twelve. He gave his first recital on a Baroque violin in Vienna’s Musikverein when he was sixteen and went on to work with such distinguished groups as La Capella Royalel, Musica Antiqua Vienna and Il Seminario musicale, before founding his own ensemble, Europa Galante, in 1989.
With Fabio Biondi as soloist and director, Europa Galante’s performances of Italian Baroque music in particular rapidly established them as one of the foremost ensembles in the world. Biondi’s desire to free period performance of stifling convention and musicological dogma has resulted in some of the most spontaneous and impassioned performances of this inexhaustible repertoire in modern times.
Europa Galante offers concert programmes ranging from chamber music to cantatas, involving between four and thirty musicians. During the last two years the ensemble has performed the world premieres of Leonardo Leo's Sant' Elena al Calvario and Alessandro Scarlatti's Massimo Puppieno and Clori, Dorino e Amore. In 2001, for the inaugural Parma Verdi Festival, Europa Galante will present Bellini’s Norma in a premiere performance on original instruments.
Fabio Biondi’s recordings with Europa Galante have been universally acclaimed. The group’s many prestigious awards include the Académie Charles Cros, Diapason d'Or de l'Année, Prix RTL and Grand Prix du Discophile. ‘Listening to these performances [of L'estro armonico for Virgin]’, reported Gramophone magazine, ‘I once again felt some of the thrill and excitement that affected me on hearing this music for the very first time, in the mid-1950s. It’s wonderful stuff, rejuvenating and immensely satisfying.’
In 1998 Fabio Biondi signed an exclusive contract with Virgin Classics as soloist and director of Europa Galante. Following three highly successful concerto discs, including Antonio Vivaldi's L'estro armonico, he released in March 2001 his first chamber recording with members of the group - string quintets by Boccherini, which Gramophone immediately labelled ‘essential’. This summer sees the much-anticipated release of a new recording of A. Vivaldi's Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione, the set of 12 violin concertos that includes the Four Seasons, for which Biondi has studied original manuscripts in Manchester, Dresden and Turin.