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Many instrumental and vocal ensembles oriented toward historical performance, such as John Eliot Gardiner's Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, have longstanding relationships with each other. But France's Pygmalion is unusual in having been established as a joint choral-instrumental group. This background has equipped the group for not only choral music of various periods, but also for the exploration of little-known operatic repertory.
Pygmalion was founded in 2006 by singer-conductor-violinist Raphaël Pichon, who studied at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional and Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, and went on to sing countertenor parts under top conductors on the early music scene: Jordi Savall, Gustav Leonhardt, and Ton Koopman, among others.
Pygmalion has had an unusually broad repertory temporally, running from the complex of musical forms that helped birth opera in the musical productions sponsored by the Medici family (on their 2017 release Stravaganza d'Amore) forward to Mendelssohn and Berlioz, and even Wagner in a survey of musical treatments of the Rhine Maidens. It has performed lesser-known works of Bach -- the Missae Breves and the Köthener Trauermusic -- as well as Mozart's Mass in C minor, K. 427, and other music associated with the two sisters, Aloysia and Constanze Weber, with whom Mozart was romantically involved (eventually marrying the latter). The lion's share of the group's efforts, however, have been directed toward opera, especially since it became associate ensemble at the Opéra Bordeaux. That relationship resulted in a critically acclaimed performance of Rameau's rarely performed and editorially troublesome Dardanus in 2015. In 2017 Pygmalion was named associate ensemble at the Opéra Comique in Paris for a three-year term.
The group recorded several albums for Alpha, making its debut in 2008 with two of Bach's Missae Breves. It moved to Harmonia Mundi in 2014 and has won major recording awards including a Gramophone Award in 2016, a CD of the Month nod from Opernwelt, and the Diapason dOr de lAnnée. ~ James Manheim