Launched on 1 May 2009, Retrospect Ensemble gave its inaugural UK performance at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, opening the festival with a critically acclaimed performance of Handel’s late masterpiece, Jephtha. Shortly afterwards they made their Edinburgh Festival debut with soprano Carolyn Sampson.
Founded by Matthew Halls, Retrospect Ensemble is embarking on a new journey both for its musicians and audiences – exploring the repertoire of four centuries and embracing the practices, styles and aesthetics of former ages with renewed vigour and a fresh approach. The choice of the name Retrospect Ensemble ensures that the group need not restrict itself to one particular historical period nor to a rigid configuration; concerts range from small chamber ensemble to full orchestra and choir.
This versatility has led to the formation of a small fixed personnel group, Retrospect Trio, in which Matthew Halls is joined by three of Europe’s leading period string specialists: Matthew Truscott, Sophie Gent and Jonathan Manson. The group’s debut CD recording of Purcell’s exquisite Sonatas of four parts was chosen as ‘CD of the week’ by The Sunday Times and selected as ‘Editor’s Choice’ by Gramophone Magazine, in addition to being nominated for a Gramophone Award in the Baroque Instrumental category. The first in a series of collaborations with the innovative label, Linn Records, this debut release was followed by a disc of Bach’s Easter Oratorio and Ascension Oratorio, nominated for a Gramophone Award in the Baroque Vocal category.
The arrival of Retrospect Ensemble has been warmly received and the series at Wigmore Hall forms the backbone of its UK concert season. The next concert in Retrospect’s 2011/12 Wigmore Hall season is a semi-staged version of Handel’s opera Amadigi di Gaula; other forthcoming engagements include a concert of Bach cantatas and motets at Bath Bachfest in February 2012 and a double bill of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Blow’s Venus and Adonis at the MAfestival in Bruges in August 2012. The ensemble has a flourishing Young Artist Programme, demonstrative of Halls’s commitment to working with and developing young talent.