Il Giardino Armonico was founded in 1985 by Giovanni Antonini (recorder), Paolo Beschi (cello) and Lorenzo Ghielmi (harpsichord), joined after a short time by the lutist Luca Pianca and the violinist Enrico Onofri, and brings together musicians from some of Europe’s leading music institutions, all of them specialized in performing on period instruments. The ensemble’s repertory is mainly focused on the 17th and 18th centuries. Depending on the demands of each programme, the group will consist of anywhere from 3 to 35 musicians.
Il Giardino Armonico is regularly invited to festivals all over the world and has performed in the most important concert halls. Among them can be counted the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Wigmore Hall and Barbican in London, Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin, Glinka Hall and Philharmonic in St. Petersburg, Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, Oji Hall in Tokyo, Library of Congress in Washington, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Sydney Opera House, Disney Hall in Los Angeles and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.
For many years il Giardino Armonico had an exclusive contract with TELDEC Classics. The group’s recordings of works by Vivaldi – among which the Four Seasons – and other 18th-century composers have met with widespread acclaim and received several major awards (Award “Fondazione Cini” of Venice, Caecilia Award in Belgium, Diapason d’Or, Choc de la Musique, Grand Prix des Discophiles). Released under the title Il Proteo, their recording of several of Vivaldi’s double and triple concertos for cello and orchestra, with Christophe Coin as guest soloist, received a Gramophone Award in October 1996 and the Diapason d’Or. The Brandenburg Concertos were awarded with the Echo-Preis 1998 and a CD dedicated to works by M. Locke and H.I.F. Biber won the Diapason d’Or 1999. In 1999 appeared the acclaimed Vivaldi Album with Cecilia Bartoli for Decca, which won a Grammy Award. In autumn 2000 their CD Viaggio Musicale of Italian music of the 17th century was released and in 2001 the CD Musica Barocca. Both were awarded the French prize “10 de Répertoire”. In December 2002 Teldec dedicated a CD in their series of Artist Portraits to the ensemble. In 2005 two CDs were released: La Casa del Diavolo (works by Boccherini, Locatelli, Gluck, C.P.E. and W.F. Bach) with the French label Naïve, and a CD of Vivaldi Violin Concerts with Viktoria Mullova for Onyx which won a Diapason d’Or. More recently the group has recorded two CD’s of Concerti per Violoncello by Vivaldi with Christophe Coin for Naïve.
Il Giardino Armonico has received the highest acclaim for both concerts and their staged opera productions, among them, Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Handel’s Agrippina, Il Trionfo del Tempo del Disinganno, La Resurrezione and Aci, Galatea e Polifemo and Pergolesi’s La serva padrona. The ensemble can regularly be heard performing with such acclaimed soloists as Cecilia Bartoli, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Sara Mingardo, Bernarda Fink, Magdalena Kožená, Viktoria Mullova, Christophe Coin and Giuliano Carmignola.
Since April 2007 il Giardino Armonico is Resident Baroque Group of the Centro Cultural Miguel Delibes in Valladolid. In May 2008 il Giardino Armonico signed an exclusive recording agreement with DECCA/L’Oiseau-Lyre. As an exclusive group of this record label the ensemble has continued its innovative approach with celebrations of music by Handel around the composers’ anniversary year (2009). Their new releases saw il Giardino Armonico exploring Haendel’s Concerti Grossi Op VI, some of the finest examples of Baroque orchestral concertos, and the cantata Pianto di Maria, with mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink.
Again in 2009 the cooperation with Cecilia Bartoli lead to the project Sacrificium, including il Giardino Armonico’s last Decca recording (awarded the Platinum Disc in France and Belgium within the first three months) and a long European tour.
The last CD released in December 2010 is again a cooperation with Naïve with Antonio Vivaldi’s opera Ottone in Villa, which is currently achieving great success and which was the Diapason d’Or in January 2011.
In 2011 il Giardino Armonico was on tour in the United States and Canada, and it joined the Pfingstens Festival in Salzburg with Roberta Invernizzi; the group also co-operated with the cellist Giovanni Sollima in September 2011 and is currently on tour with Viktoria Mullova.
Cecilia Bartoli, Artistic Director of Salzburg Pfingstens Festival from 2012, has invited il Giardino Armonico, and Giovanni Antonini as conductor, to perform with her Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare during the 2012 edition of the Festival, and at the Salzburgerfestspiele in August.