Il Complesso Barocco
Baroque Music Ensemble
• Founded 1992
Often appears with
Il Complesso Barocco, as its Italian name suggests, is an ensemble devoted mainly to the performance of Baroque music. The group has played an essential role in the revival of Baroque opera, not least because of the scholarship and pioneering work of founder and conductor, Alan Curtis, who has fashioned authentic versions of operas by Monteverdi (L'incoronazione di Poppea), Handel (Admeto), and other Baroque stalwarts. Il Complesso Barocco is made up of about 20 members, all of whom perform on period instruments. Over the years ICB has come to be identified with the operas of Handel and Vivaldi and with late-madrigal fare. That said, the repertory is hardly limited to those spheres, as it takes in an array of works, particularly operas and oratorios, as well as instrumental compositions, by Gesualdo, Monteverdi, Porpora, Gagliano, Rossi, Lotti, and many others. ICB have made numerous recordings over time and for a variety of labels, including Decca, EMI, Sony, Virgin Classics, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Arthaus Musik, Berlin Classics, and others.
Il Complesso Barocco was founded by Alan Curtis in Amsterdam in 1979. Curtis, already recognized as a scholar in Baroque opera and performance practices, fashioned the group to play music with a faithfulness to its stylistic spirit and sound. Often he conducts the ensemble from the keyboard (harpsichord or organ). Among the ensemble's first recordings was a critically acclaimed performance on EMI of Handel's Admeto (reissued in 2009 on Virgin Classics).
Throughout the 1980s ICB grew in stature and, owing to its highly praised performances and recordings of madrigal repertory, were selected by director Werner Herzog to appear in his 1995 film Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices. ICB garnered numerous awards for recordings from around that time and into the new century, including the 2000 Diapason d'Or for a Virgin Veritas CD of Ferrari's Il Sansone and the 2005 International Handel Recording Prize for Radamisto, on EMI.
In 2006 ICB made the world-premiere recording of Vivaldi's Montezuma (DG/Archiv Produktion), fashioned from an incomplete Vivaldi manuscript by ICB violinist and Baroque scholar Alessandro Ciccolini. ICB took the work on tour in the 2007-2008 season, giving acclaimed performances in Paris, Lisbon, Vienna, and other major European cities. ICB's later recordings include the 2009 Archiv Produktion three-CD album of Handel's Ezio, with mezzo Ann Hallenberg in the title role and soprano Karina Gauvin as Fulvia.