Montreal is the regular meeting place for the international slate of early-music specialists known as Masques, acclaimed for their expressiveness, the eloquence of their interpretations, and the dynamic musical involvement of each member. From the outset, Masques received instant international attention, winning the Grand Prize in the Dorian/Early Music America Competition in 2000, and being selected finalist at the York Early Music Competition in 2001. The name of the ensemble is inspired by the masques of Elizabethan England - mystical performances that fused poetry, music, dance and drama. The six members of Masques, who hail from Canada, France, Australia, Finland and Belgium, work as a chamber ensemble without conductor. Their uncommon chemistry combines razor sharp ensemble with a spontaneity and freedom that brings to life the inherent theatricality of 17th and 18th century repertoire.
Recent tours have taken Masques across Canada, and to the US and Mexico where appearances have included The Frick Collection, The University of Chicago, the San Diego Early Music Society, Milwaukee’s Early Music Now, and The National Gallery. In Europe they have appeared in Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, and in the UK at London’s Wigmore Hall.
Masques has just released a new CD devoted to the instrumental music of Johann Heinrich Schmelzer. Released on Zig-Zag Territoires, it has been awarded the “CHOC Classica” in France, and was named “CD de la Semaine” on Belgium’s Musiq3. Other critically acclaimed releases on the ATMA and Analekta labels include Johann Rosenmüller: Sonatas in 2, 3, 4 and 5 parts; Mensa Sonora - Biber and his Contemporaries; Bach: Concerti and Sonatas and Rameau: Complètes Pièces de clavecin en Concerts.