Deutsche Grammophon is delighted to announce the signing of a long-term project contract with the Freiburger Barockorchester (FBO). In the coming years, the Yellow Label will issue a series of albums by this highly acclaimed period-instrument ensemble, renowned for its democratic approach to music-making, and for performances marked by unflagging dynamism, luminosity of sound, diversity of repertoire, and superb individual and collective artistry.
The FBO’s debut recording for Deutsche Grammophon will focus on Mozart and his connections with Mannheim, one of eighteenth-century Europe’s greatest musical centres. It will paint a musical portrait by combining music by Mozart himself with works by composers he would have encountered as a young man during his visit to the court of the music-loving Elector Palatine in the late 1770s. Featuring world premiere recordings of Christian Danner’s Violin Concerto in F major – performed by the FBO’s joint Artistic Director, Gottfried von der Goltz – and works for orchestra or smaller ensemble by Carlo Giuseppe Toeschi, Christian Cannabich and Georg Joseph “Abbé” Vogler, it will also present the Symphony in C major K. 208/102, Mozart’s reworking of the overture to his serenata Il re pastore.
“It is a big honour for us to be invited to work with Deutsche Grammophon,” comments Hans-Georg Kaiser, Intendant and Managing Director of the Freiburger Barockorchester. “This exciting relationship shows DG’s commitment to bringing Early Music to the widest possible audience. We were thrilled when they asked us to create album programmes based around the music of a particular region or historical court. There’s so much great music from before 1800 waiting to be rediscovered, and we look forward to adding some wonderful compositions to the Yellow Label’s unrivalled catalogue.”
Deutsche Grammophon’s Senior Manager Artist Promotion and A&R, Andreas Kluge, welcomes the prospect of developing the new series of recordings with the FBO. “In my opinion, the Freiburger Barockorchester has surpassed all other period-instrument orchestras for consistency and quality when it comes to innovative programming, musical precision and the sheer joy of performing,” he observes. “I have been to many of their concerts over the years. Each has been a voyage of discovery into new, if seemingly familiar territory. For me it was both a pleasure and an entirely logical decision to sign this unique ensemble to the Yellow Label.”
The roots of the Freiburger Barockorchester date back to 1985, when a group of like-minded students at the internationally renowned Hochschule für Musik Freiburg came together to study historically informed performance practice and play Baroque and early Classical works on period instruments. Following two years of extensive research and preparation, the young players gave their first concert in November 1987. Under the shared artistic direction of violinists Gottfried von der Goltz and Petra Müllejans, the FBO soon earned a reputation as one of the world’s foremost period-instrument orchestras. As well as establishing regular concert series in Freiburg, Stuttgart and Berlin, it began to receive regular invitations to perform at the most prestigious international venues.
From the start, the FBO has been run according to its own carefully defined artistic credo. A self-governing ensemble, it often works without a conductor, and concerto soloists are chosen from among its own ranks, which have remained largely unchanged over the decades. Whether performing well-known or newly discovered music, the players’ aim is always to discover the context in which a work was written and what its composer’s intentions were, in order to bring as much authenticity as possible to their interpretations. They are also renowned for playing standing up, a choice that adds to the energy and engagement of their performances.
In 2017, acclaimed fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout succeeded Müllejans as joint Artistic Director, and today he and Gottfried von der Goltz continue to work in democratic consultation with the rest of the players to agree repertoire, choice of soloists and performance practice issues. The FBO also works on projects – in formations ranging from different chamber groupings to opera orchestra – with guest conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Pablo Heras-Casado, Teodor Currentzis and, most notably, René Jacobs, with whom it has enjoyed a long and fruitful musical friendship.
In recent years the FBO has broadened its scope to embrace music from the nineteenth century. Its schedule, in addition to concerts at home and on tour, comprises programmes for children and young people, education projects and, in the last two years, livestreamed performances that have been praised for bringing new listeners to Baroque music. The FBO’s extensive discography has attracted, among other prestigious awards, three Jahrespreise der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, two Gramophone Awards, three Edison Classical Music Awards, a Classical Brit Award and two Grammy nominations.
“In the 35 years since the Freiburger Barockorchester made its debut, it has set benchmark standards and shown how music from the past can sound fresh and alive to contemporary audiences,” concludes Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon. “We are very pleased to be able to launch this partnership and work with the ensemble as it continues to break new ground in the period-instrument arena. The DG team is looking forward to capturing its incomparable sound in all its rich variety and subtlety of nuance.”