Ensemble Marsyas

Ensemble Marsyas



Ensemble Marsyas is something of an all-star youth historical-performance ensemble, with members from several countries joining forces to play music from a variety of national traditions. It is not to be confused with the ensemble Marsyas Baroque.

The group's director is Irish-born Peter Whelan, who is a noted performer on both bassoon and harpsichord; he directs Ensemble Marsyas from the latter instrument. Several members of what became Ensemble Marsyas won the first prize and audience prize at the 2007 Brugge International Competition, performing the then-unfamiliar music of Jan Dismas Zelenka. Ensemble Marsyas was formed by Whelan in 2011, and the group quickly began to perform high-quality concerts of unfamiliar Baroque repertory. It has frequently appeared at London's Wigmore Hall. The ensemble evolved from a core group of musicians, most of whom had studied in Switzerland and played with the European Union Baroque Orchestra. Many members have performed with other top early music ensembles. The group's size expands and contracts as needed according to repertory; as of 2020, it had ten ongoing players, including Whelan. That year, the group's performance plans included appearances at the Lammermuir Festival in Scotland), the Festival di Musica Antica delle Camelie in Ticino, Switzerland, and the East Cork Early Music Festival in Ireland.

Ensemble Marsyas made its recording debut on the Linn label in 2012 with a group of sonatas by Zelenka. It has continued to record for Linn, issuing recordings that cover unfamiliar but accessible Baroque repertory. The Proud Bassoon (2014) allowed Whelan to display virtuoso-level chops on his solo instrument. In 2017, Ensemble Marsyas released Edinburgh 1742, a re-creation of a hypothetical concert of that year that included music by Handel and the little-known Handel follower Francesco Barsanti. A second volume of Edinburgh 1742 appeared on Linn in 2020. The group's future plans include collaborations with fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout and recorder player Maurice Steger and an exploration of the wind soloists surrounding Handel.