In 1951, twelve young and promising italian musicians, mainly roman and mostly graduates of the at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, got together "inter pares" to create a unique chamber orchestra comprising six violins, two violas, two cellos, one double bass and one harpsichord.
They chose the simple, yet nice, name I MUSICI and they deliberately decided to shape the ensemble without conductor. They did so in order to create an egalitarian relationship among the twelve colleagues and friends, which would bring to their music-making a unanimity on technical and interpretative questions. It was a very unconventional but unexpectedly suitable procedure. Notably, maestro Arturo Toscanini, on hearing them rehearsing in April 1952 at the Italian Radio studios, enthused over the young orchestra in front of journalists and musical personalities, and dedicated his photograph to the group with the words “bravi, bravissimi …no! la musica non muore”, (bravo, the music will not die).
A few weeks earlier, on the 30th of March 1952, their public debut was an enormous success at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Roma; it was the starting point of an astonishing career, which in a schort time catapulted them among the ranks of the great international performers.
During the course of the years, the musicians have changed, the original members of the group retired but, together with the younger talent that has taken their place, there has always been a generation of “historic” members present who guarantee the tradition and continuity of the orchestra.
At present I Musici are regular guests at the most important international festivals and they carry out an intense concert activity in prestigious theatres and concert halls such as: “G Enescu” International Festival in Bucharest, Colon Theatre in Buenos Aires, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Centre in New York, the “Spring Festival” in Budapest, Sunthory Hall and Opera City in Tokyo, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Philharmonie in Berlin, Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, Seoul Arts Centre, Boston Symphony Hall, Shanghai Concert Hall, Beijing National centre for the Performing Arts and numerous others.
Press reviews for I Musici confirm their reputation:
The Washington Post - By Joan Reinthaler
I Musici di Roma exhibits lavish virtuosity in National Gallery
With the same agility and fire they've so often lavished on the music of Vivaldi and his baroque contemporaries, the 12 musicians of I Musici di Roma took on Rossini, Paganini, Rolla and a sampling of 20th-century Italian film scores for their appearance at the National Gallery on Sunday. It was the third concert in the gallery's celebration of Italian art, film and music, and it was an evening of exuberantly lavish virtuosity.
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Standing Ovations for superb renditions.
World famous I Musici di Roma have won standing ovations throughout their tour with Chamber Music New Zealand, and the audience that packed the theatre on Saturday night in New Plymouth bettered the record, six times rising and applauding joyously.
Many of us wondered how seasons that featured Pinchas Zukerman and the Borodin Quartet could be possible be followed, but this elite chamber orchestra was the way to do it.
John Button, The Dominion Post
Never out of seasons.
At 60 Italy's I Musici are one of the oldest chamber music ensemble in the world and one of the best.
Each and every work benefited from their suave, smooth sound and the sort of technical brilliance that makes ensemble playing seem almost casual.
Pam & John Wuts, Napier
"Hard to believe I live in a town where 10 minutes down the road I can get to listen to a world famous music group I Musici! The concert in Napier tonight was absolutely stunning, and if I were unable to attend the rest of the year's concerts, I would feel my subs were well spent! It is not often we see people in New Zealand concert halls on their feet, but tonight it wasn't done once but several times. Thank you Chamber Music New Zealand for giving us so much listening pleasure!"
Susan Jane, Wellington
"Loved every minute of it! My friend said to me after the concert "at one point I closed my eyes and thought 'this is the best!'" I was especially captivated with Bacalov's Concerto Grosso for I Musici's 60th - beautiful. And if I could say all that in Italian, I would!"
Accademy of Performing arts, Waikato Times
String playing at its finest.
The quality of their sound captured the hues of being sweet, silken, warm and refined; stunningly beautyful.
Their ensemble articulation, dynamic control and balance were sublime. I Musici produced string ensemble playing of the highest quality.
The refined finger and bow technique, coupled with dynamics and timbric expression induce in the listener an incredible sensation in the fast passages and shivers up the spine in the slow parts.
It seems almost too much to absorb all in the same evening, hearing I Musici with a class of their own, playing on their treasured instruments like Amati, Cappa, Guarnieri or Storioni.
Majestic and in good taste with their Italian baroque sonority.
Die Welt, 07.04.2011
Kammermusiksaal Philharmonie Berlin
From the first passionate entrance, pulses raced. The accents, the delicate changes of dynamic and the variations of mood are always organic and never casual, a scintillating fugue in Haendel's Concerto Grosso op.6 no.1. I Musici have made the 18th century repertoire shine for almost 60 years, much longer than any other chamber orchestra. It was a blessed evening.
The public was thrilled with the impulse and agility of the performance. I Musici are specialists at works of great precision and in their capacity of somehow chiselling the sound. Each member of the group is a soloist.
I Musici continuously presented new colours and created labyrinths of impressive virtuosity.
Their way of playing is emotionally rich and articulate. Who else would be able to sing melodies so intimately? Who else could play the slow movements like they do?
I MUSICI DI ROMA PLAYED IN AN EXPRESSIVE BAROQUE STYLE
I Musici di Roma don't only consider the mere beauty of the sound. The Ensemble, specialists in Italian baroque music, at the season's opening of concerts in Braunschweig Stadthalle, showed that expression, even in the baroque repertoire, is important to them.
And with a modern interpretation, the Ensemble of soloists won Vivaldi's popular "Four Seasons" for themselves. Nothing that had been heard before, it was all rather a new approach. The Allegro of Primavera (Spring) blossoms with the maximum amount of energy, the scintilating bows hurl their rolls of thunder as there are the autumnal drunks and the edgeways slipping of the sounds in the wintry squall. The public was very enthusiastic.
SKATING WITH VIVALDI
I Musici di Roma are a truly disarming ensemble. In the Harmonie Hall they really succeeded in impressing the public. The ensemble, I Musici di Roma, composed of twelve musicians i.e. a harpsichordist plus eleven very vital strings, left the spectators with held breath during the opening concert of the Culture Circles in the Harmonie Hall.
Emotions and feelings in the second half of the concert entirely devoted to Vivaldi and his work "The Four Seasons". The intimate sense of rhythm, brilliant and radiant beauty of phrasing, the consistent interpretation and deep homogeneity of twelve musicians have contributed to making this work as one of the best examples of the repertoire of instrumental music. The soloists of I Musici, with their incessant return to the scene, wanted to prolong these moments of happiness born by the contact with an audience of music lovers.
The twelve musicians in I Musici, together transformed the joyous Sinfonia RV 149 by Vivaldi, into a furious vortex of strings. There, everything bubbled and danced as if in a turbulent Venetian carnival. It was irrelevant and charming and always very stylish. I Musici built on the experience of their previous performances without ever becoming dogmatic. A pulsating bass (harpsichord and double bass) gave particular emphasis to the orchestra. Everything was played in a natural and spontaneous manner, exactly as it should have been.
“THE BAROQUE SOUND ENRAPTURES THE PUBLIC”
Energy, impulse and elegance.
With its fifty years and more of history, the orchestra “I Musici di Roma” belongs to the old school of musicians, in the dignified sense, but assuredly not to those out of date ones.
It isn’t an anachronism to play an Italian baroque programme with modern tuning: this is what “I Musici” presented. The ensemble, known for its beautiful traditional sound, made an impression with its varied means of expression.
“I Musici” in the slow phrasing, ‘painted’ precious coloured embellishments.
The twelve strings in the orchestra “I Musici di Roma”, play with their strong and positive sound which is never overdone. The ensemble alone, would already have filled the evening with music, but with the soloist Mayer on the oboe it was a true pleasure…
Albrecht Mayer and the ensemble “I Musici di Roma” (the twelve gentlemen who accompanied him) sounded like a breath of fresh air as they brought us this mixture of tenuousness and perfection in the music by Italian masters like Vivaldi, Marcello, Lotti and Geminiani. It was fast, crisp, precise, accurate and at the same time so delicate in the slow phrases.
The Roman ensemble “I Musici” definitely conquered the audience with their interpretation of Geminiani’s concerto grosso no 12. Their virtuosity and rich dynamic contrasts were evident in the variations.
The group, “I Musici di Roma” has dedicated almost sixty years to baroque music with absolute passion. In the meantime the ensemble has got younger, not only in age but with the whole musical style.
“I Musici” reanimated Vivaldi’s concertos with their fresh approach, ‘murmured’ as well as impetuous sounds and by using delicate oscillating bowing.
KULTURBURO SCHWABISCHE ZEITUNG
“Homogeneity and Quality”
“A full bodied sound that mingles homogeneity and quality and enhances the phrase lines”.
La Vanguardia – Barcellona
"Consistently stylish champion of modern instrument Baroque performances for the last 40 years, the Italian string players of I Musici brought their individual brand of music-making to Orchestra Hall"
"I MUSICI are ever since a model for all similar groups. They play without a conductor and each member is a soloist - It means that every performance they give is a true expression spontaneous and meticulously polished of the talent of 12 artists - In every style they bring the essential impulse of life - The result is playing of verve, stylistic purity and impeccable artistry - One is constantly impressed by their ability to achieve the full sonority of a string orchestra without sacrificing the clarity and the utter precision of a string quartet - I MUSICI achieve the most delicate nuances of shading, of balance, of phrasing - Never does the rhythmic impulse falter, never is a note out of place.
Robert Sherman, NEW YORK TIMES.
"I MUSICI, nowadays, still represent one of the best examples of the italian instrumental civilization."
Verniero Rizzardi, NUOVO DI VENEZIA
I Musici became one of the great brand names of classical music thanks to the international popularity of new vinyl LP records…. I Musici's program bio said its approach has been ''unchanging" for half a century, which is true. The celebrated energy, discipline, tonal glow remain”.
The Boston Globe
“the brilliant ensemble and subtly handled dynamics of this renowned group, which has defined the art of string-playing for more than 50 years”.
Rocky Mountain News
“The inimitable sound of those ancient instruments — impossibly suave and golden — in hands that are infallibly precise yet free and spontaneous gave the music a special luminosity. I’ve heard these works many times, but never with such zest, freshness and buoyancy”.
The Reading Eagle
“I Musici earns standing ovations with powerful playing”. (Headline)
Great Music in a Great Space.’ This is how the Cathedral Music Society describes its concert series…Finally, truth in advertising.
The Cincinnati Enquirer
“The group lives up to its recordings. This deft dozen are conductorless, but members looked to - and got - strong leadership…The group has a bright, bouncy sound whose ensemble unity almost never falters”.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
“With an unaffected elegance they play like musical aristocrats, conveying a bit of family history in finely burnished tones…their playing sings effortlessly in that special way the Italian sun seems to generate”.
“I Musici lives up to world reputation - Ensemble shows mastery of baroque”. (Headline)
The News Tribune, Tacoma
“a near-capacity audience in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall loved every minute of it…an excellent interpretation - a classic, preserved not only on records and in live performance but also in the hearts of thousands - perhaps millions.”
The Washington Post
"the vigor, dimension, sensitivity and sheer muscular energy of these performances were both novel and bracing."
The Washington Post
"the Rome-based ensemble… tore into and delivered an astonishing performance of Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons."
Los Angeles Times
"The group's peformance on Sunday afternoon was energetic, lush in texture and largely note perfect…virtuosity on display”
The New York Times
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