La Europe Galante was Italy's first dedicated period instruments Baroque ensemble and has earned a reputation of one of Europe's finest and most stylish such orchestras.
It was founded by Italy's leading period violinist, Fabio Biondi at the instigation of a record company executive, Yolanta Skura. Skura, a Polish recording engineer who had trained as a pianist, in the late 1980s began planning to go into business with her own label, OpusRead more 111. She decided to sign unknown, but excellent musicians in whom she had confidence and could watch over the development of their careers, a process she says is in contrast to the approach of big companies.
One of the most interesting young musicians of the time was Fabio Biondi, a violinist from Sicily, born in 1961, who had become interested in the Baroque violin, while studying at the Rome Conservatory. Biondi had debuted as a Baroque violinist in the esteemed Musikverein of Vienna at 16 and through the 1980s worked with some of the leading international-rank period groups. Skura suggested that he founded his own Baroque period ensemble in the interests of developing an Italian approach to "authentic" performances.
La Europa Galante derives its name from the "galante" style of music that developed after the height of Baroque music and known for its simpler, direct technical means. The new ensemble was an immediate hit in Italy, where it was hailed as a symbol of the rebirth of Baroque music in Italy. Stereo Review likened the effect of its fresh approach to Baroque music to seeing "a well-restored painting by Caravaggio or Tiepolo."
La Europa Galante was the top act on the Opus 111 label. Its recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons stood out among the several dozen versions of that over-recorded work and became the label's top-selling disc. It was named the best recording of the year by sources in at lease five countries.
Soon the ensemble was a familiar guest at international music festivals and great recital and concert halls. Biondi, who loves the human voice, eagerly accepted offers to lead the group in Baroque opera and oratorio performances. These included the modern premiere of Handel's Poro, Caldara's La Passione de Gesù Cristo, and Alessandro Scarlatti's La Maddalena and Humanità e Lucifero.
Late in the 1990s, La Europe Galante and Biondi accepted an offer to join EMI's Virgin label. Their first release was another highly successful Vivaldi project, L'Estro armonico, and it has also released the Caldara Passion on the Virgin Veritas imprint. Read less