Retrospect Ensemble gave its inaugural concert at the 2009 Norfolk and Norwich Festival, a critically acclaimed performance of Handel’s late masterpiece, Jephtha, directed by Matthew Halls. Ever since then, the Ensemble has gained a reputation for giving highly charged performances of dramatic works, such as Purcell The Fairy Queen (Israel), Gluck Orfeo ed Euridice (collaboration with Korean National Opera), and Blow Venus and Adonis / Purcell Dido and Aeneas (Bruges Concertgebouw); the works of Handel have become a speciality, with critically acclaimed performances of Jephtha, Apollo e Dafne, L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato and Amadigi di Gaula (Alessandro Talevi, director; Madeleine Boyd, designer).
Recent orchestral programmes have included Mozart and Haydn (Wigmore Hall New Year’s Day concert) and the music of Merula, Uccellini, Buonamente and Marini and their contemporaries (Spitalfields Festival); choral concerts include Rachmaninov Vespers, Buxtehude Membra Jesu nostri, a programme of Polish baroque repertoire (Lufthansa Festival) and Bach cantatas, motets and masses (Bath Bachfest).
The ensemble regularly works with soloists such as Robin Blaze (Vivaldi cantatas), Carolyn Sampson (Bach cantatas, Edinburgh Festival), Julia Doyle (Purcell theatrical airs), Katherine Manley, Gillian Keith, Christopher Ainslie, Frances Bourne, Iestyn Davies, James Gilchrist, Charles Daniels, Peter Harvey and Andrew Foster-Williams, as well as giving valuable opportunities to emerging young artists.
The group’s versatility led to the formation of Retrospect Trio, in which Matthew Halls is joined by Matthew Truscott, Sophie Gent and Jonathan Manson, three of Europe’s leading period string specialists. The Trio’s debut recording of Purcell’s exquisite Sonatas of four parts was chosen as ‘CD of the week’ by The Sunday Times and ‘Editor’s Choice’ by Gramophone Magazine, in addition to being nominated for a Gramophone Award. Retrospect’s collaboration with the innovative label, Linn Records, has resulted in several major successes, with a further Gramophone Award nomination for their disc of Bach’s Easter Oratorio and Ascension Oratorio.
Following Halls’ recent appointment to Oregon Bach Festival, Justin Doyle has been invited to succeed him as Artistic Director of Retrospect Ensemble. Particularly known for his historically-informed conducting of opera, Doyle’s first performance with the Ensemble will be a semi-staged performance of Haydn’s chamber opera Lo Speziale (The Apothecary) in November 2013.See biogs of key individuals.