Hyperion Records

Artist Hyperion Records

The Extempore String Ensemble

The Extempore String Ensemble was formed in 1975 to perform English music of the 16th and 17th centuries on stringed instruments popular at that time, and with the very special approach of extemporising freely on the music. This practice was then universal among performing musicians but has been almost completely neglected in modern performances of renaissance and baroque music. By performing in this way the Extempore String Ensemble creates anew the music of a brilliant age, remaining faithful to a strong musical tradition and yet communicating easily with modera audiences, a fact which can be verified by attending any of their concerts. The total success of this approach has been recognised by critics and reviewers of their records and public performances. David Fallows, writing about them in the magazine Gramophone, said: 'Over the past few years the Extempore String Ensemble have carved a place all of their own because they have concentrated their efforts carefully on a smallish repertory and have developed a style of group improvisation that is fully in accord with what is known about the work of secular musicians in the late sixteenth Century. The success of their improvisations, it seems to me, lies largely in their ensemble: they are a more closely-knit group than many and they have learned to trade off ideas across the ensemble in a way that is taken for granted today less among classical musicians than in jazz. You will hear things here which have not been done elsewhere, and the results - quite apart from their 'interest' - are extremely satisfying.' The Ensemble is now frequently to be heard from their many broadcasts and regular concerts and have attracted a faithful and enthusiastic following. After their last concert in London's Wigmore Hall, the critic of The Daily Telegraph described their performances as 'some of the most delightful, lively, natural period playing that it would be possible to hear', and another critic wrote that 'the excellent standard this group maintains is one of the joys of concert going'. On the BBC they have been described as possessing 'a combination of technique, musical sensitivity and sheet zest which puts them right at the forefront of groups playing renaissance music.'

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