Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music- Season 58: The Valencia Baryton Project

Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music- Season 58: The Valencia Baryton Project

A string trio with four instruments? A harpsichord hiding behind the cello? The Valencia Baryton Project has dedicated itself to the performance of music written for an ancient and little-known instrument, the baryton. A cross between the viol da gamba and lirone, with 10 resonating and plucked strings down the back of the instrument, the baryton gives the traditional string trio an entirely new dimension.

The Valencia Baryton Project was formed by colleagues from the opera of the Palau de les Arts and the Orchestre Nationale Montpellier with the vision of performing the nearly 160 works written by Franz Joseph Haydn as well as compositions by other composers, both modern and classical. At the heart of the ensemble is the traditional formation in trio – baryton, viola, and violoncello – for which Haydn wrote 123 works of outstanding beauty during his time as the court composer for the Prince Esterhazy of Austria.

With Matthew Baker, one of only a handful baryton performers in the world, the Valencia Baryton Project have delighted audiences in North, Central and South America as well as Europe with what is considered to have been the pinnacle of aristocratic instruments of the classical era. Their work has been described as ‘beautifully polished’ (Musicalifeiten) and “delightfully inventive” (The Strad). They have been featured in publications and programs such as Berklee Now (USA), Radio Nacional de España, BBC 3 (UK), Die Welt (Germany), and Classic FM (UK) amongst others.

In 2021, the Valencia Baryton Project released Naxos Records’ first ever baryton CD, launching a new series for the label. Their recording has been described as “spiritedly performed and superbly recorded” (Classical Music Daily, UK), “highly recommended” (Stretto, Belgium), “a discovery for curious ears” (OnlineMerker, Switzerland), and “virtuosic” (WDR 3, Germany). The CD was nominated as one of the finalists for Best Classical CD of the Carles Santos Premios and has also appeared in Gramophone’s top 20 Classical charts in the UK.

As Haydn was not limited to writing trios, likewise the Valencia Baryton Project has from the beginning been a flexible ensemble, adapting from its standard trio setting to accommodate anything from duo to quintet or even octet to accommodate the numerous works written for the instrument.

Beyond the over 160 works by Haydn for this instrument, the ensemble has added to their repertoire works by numerous other contemporaries of Haydn such as Tomasini, Lidl, Neumann and Bergsteiner as well as working with modern day composers such as Ivan Moody, Steve Zink, John Pickup and Julian Calarco. They have also collaborated with international artists such as Carrie Krause (violin, USA), Jeremy Brooker (baryton, UK), Chris Hirst (theorbo, UK) and Paloma Friedhoff (soprano, Spain) amongst many others.

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