Genre: Chamber Music, Concerto
Fabio Biondi is Italy's leading period instruments and Baroque violinist, and is one of the leading European violinists.
He began violin lessons with Salvatore Cicerto at the age of five in his native Palermo. At the age of 12 he appeared as a concerto soloist with the Italian Radio (RAI) Symphony Orchestra in several concerts. At that time, he played modern violin, but in his early teens, he began to take an interest in period instruments and performing styles and began to play Baroque and Classical violin as well as the modern instrument. (The distinction between these types of string instruments is how they are set up - what kinds of strings, bridges, and bows are used, for instance.)
In the 1970s, when Biondi was polishing his technique, period instrument performance flourished in Europe and America, although Italy was not in the forefront of it. He studied at the Conservatory of Rome with Mauro Lo Guercio, winning first prize in violin in 1981.
By then Biondi had already began establishing himself as a Baroque violinist, having made his first appearance in that capacity in a concert at the Musikverein in Vienna at the age of 16. After graduation, he formed a string quartet, the Stendahl Quartet, which gave concerts from the quartet repertory from the Classical through contemporary times. What set the Stendahl Quartet apart was that any work that it performed was always played on instruments appropriate to the period, and in a stylistically informed manner. Several Italian composers composed for the quartet.
Biondi worked during the 1980s with several of the leading original instruments ensembles of the continent, including Hesperion XX, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Musica Antiqua of Vienna, the Clemencic Consort, the Chapelle Royale, and the Camerata di Lugano. He recorded the earliest of violin concertos, those by such Italian masters as Veracini, Locatelli, and Tartini.
In 1989, he founded La Europa Galante, Italy's first dedicated Baroque original instruments orchestra. Since then, he has served as its conductor and music director, as well as its solo violinist. Where appropriate, he conducts from the violin, as was often done during the era.
Biondi and La Europa Galante have often appeared at major international music festivals, and the ensemble has functioned as the orchestra in several productions of Baroque opera. These include the modern premiere of the opera Poro by Handel, and in the oratorios La Maddelena and Humanita e Lucifero by Alessandro Scarlatti and La Passione di Gesu Cristo by Caldara. He has led La Europa Galante in opera productions at Monte Carlo, the St. Cecilia Academy in Rome, the Baroque Music Center in Versailles, the Nice Opera, and Wigmore Hall in London.
He often guest conducts with standard orchestras, which include the Radio France Philharmonic, the Montpelier Philharmonic Orchestra, and chamber and period orchestras including the Collegium Orchestra of New York, the Rotterdam Chamber Orchestra, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, and the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris.
Biondi has won numerous recording prizes including the Diapason d'Or of the Year, the Priz Cini of Italy, the ffff de Telerama, and Choc de Musique. His widely acclaimed recording with La Europa Galante of Vivaldi's Four Seasons was named Disc of the Year by organizations in Canada, Sweden, France, Spain, and Finland. He is an exclusive artist for Virgin Classics.
- Joseph Stevenson (All Music Guide)