18th-century Europe has been a period of production of a huge amount of instrumental chamber music particularly fashioned to the delight and entertainment of the society's upper classes. In the Rococo, especially the rising bourgeoisie was familiar enough with the language of music to be both consumers and active participants, with an ever-growing demand for musical novelty for their entertainment in private salons. The thriving market in chamber-music part-sets for domestic use (a score was considered unnecessary) was served by many professional musicians who worked outside the traditional spheres, as have been the church or the theatre. These interpreters-composers were chiefly violinists, but also flautists and oboists, often leading an itinerant life throughout Europe.
The Pla brothers belonged to this kind of itinerant virtuosos: born into a Catalan family of musicians, they were excellent oboists, but played other instruments as well, and composed. Manuel Pla, known to have played also violin and harpsichord, established himself in Madrid as a military musician and theatre composer, probably remaining there until his death in 1766. Josep and Joan Baptista plied their trade outside Spain, as chamber music enjoyed limited popularity in their home country. From about 1751 they toured the courts and concert halls of the main European capitals, performing together. Apparently, the two brothers composed most of their sonatas together. After Josep's death in 1762, Joan Baptista continued alone, as oboist, bassoonist and dulcimer virtuoso, settling at the court in Lisbon from 1769 until his death in 1773. Being famous for the sweetnes and the brilliance of their playing, they were celebrated wherever they appeared. Nowadays, their music is still relatively unknown and very few of their works have been edited, performed or recorded. Almost hundred orchestral and chamber works by the Pla brothers survive in manuscript copies or old printed editions and there are references in various catalogues by 18th-century editors, of many others, which are still to be discovered.
Founded in 2000, ROSSI PICENO Baroque Ensemble has established itself as an increasingly successful group, appearing in several festivals, and winning prizes in such prestigious competitions as Musica Antiqua (Bruges, Belgium) in 2003 and Premio Bonporti (Rovereto, Italy) in 2004. The ensemble has always been characterised by the diversity of its members' nationalities, and its willingness to explore a broad range of repertoire, from solo to orchestral works. The group consists of young musicians of great expertise, active in many other renowned ensembles such as Concerto Italiano, Hesperion XXI, La Petite Bande, Les Talens Lyriques, the Bach Collegium Japan, Ensemble Zefiro, De Nederlandse Bachvereniging, and the Freiburger Barockorchester, to name a few. The professionalism, devotion and enthusiasm with which the ensemble works is reflected in the variety of their programming, and their interest in exploring little-known baroque repertoire, as well as in their interpretation of music of different styles.
Emiliano Rodolfi, oboe
Andreas Helm, oboe
Marian Minnen, cello
Raúl Moncada, harpsichord
Ayako Matsunaga, violin
Wim Maesele, theorbo and guitar