The English Concert is an "authentic performance" ensemble, founded by harpsichordist and conductor Trevor Pinnock in 1973. The group quickly established itself as one of Britain's leading orchestras in the then-young field of performing Baroque works on Baroque instruments. The English Concert and the energetic Pinnock helped put historical performance on the charts. The orchestra has a reputation for stylish, lively, and high-quality music-making. Its sound is light, bright, and clear. Its strings usually employ no vibrato, and its winds have a woody, attractive tone that blends well with strings and with the fortepiano. Generally the orchestra applies only a light swelling on sustained string notes. In explaining the orchestra's choice to specialize in original instruments (or painstakingly authentic re-creations of them), Pinnock explains, "The answer is simple -- we wanted to use the most suitable tools for the job. These instruments were good enough for Bach -- surely they're good enough for us." In 1983, the English Concert Choir was established, to perform and record choral works with the instrumental ensemble. After 30 years leading the group, Pinnock stepped down and turned the music directorship over to Andrew Manze.
Recording for Deutsche Grammophon's Archiv imprint, Harmonia Mundi, and its own label, Avie, the English Concert has released over 70 albums, many of which have won top recording awards such as the Grand Prix du Disque< and Grammophon Awards. With Pinnock leading, it has recorded complete symphonies of Mozart, Bach's Brandenburg Concerti and Orchestral Suites, and many Haydn symphonies and Vivaldi concertos. In addition it has participated in recordings of Haydn masses and Handel oratorios and operas. It has toured extensively in Europe and Asia, including a 1998 25th anniversary tour.