“Magic does not characterize every performer of the baroque flute but Giovanni Antonini stretches the boundaries of its playing.”
“Il Giardino Armonico are as Italian as the music itself – brightly coloured, individualistic, confident, stylish, arrestingly decorated, bubbling with enthusiasm . . .”
Giovanni Antonini was born in Milan in 1965. He studied the flute and recorder at the Civica Scuola di Musica of his home town and at the Centre de Musique Ancienne in Geneva.
In 1985 he became a founding member of the baroque ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, which brings together musicians from some of Europe’s leading music institutions, all of them specialised in performing on period instruments. The ensemble’s repertory is principally concentrated on the 17th and 18th centuries. Depending on the demands of each programme, the group consists of 3 to 35 musicians. Antonini has led the ensemble since 1989 and has appeared with them as conductor and also as soloist on the recorder and baroque transverse flute at major venues in Europe, the USA, Canada, South America, Australia, Japan and Malaysia. They are also regularly invited to festivals all over the world such as the Styriarte Festival in Graz, the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, Osterklang in Vienna, the Schleswig-Holstein, Rheingau and Lucerne Festivals. The ensemble has performed in most of the world’s important concert halls, including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, London’s Wigmore Hall and Barbican Centre, the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Zurich’s Tonhalle, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Berlin’s Staatsoper unter den Linden, the Glinka Hall and Philharmonic in St. Petersburg, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, Oji Hall in Tokyo, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, the Sydney Opera House, Disney Hall in Los Angeles and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.
Besides his many commitments with Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini is often invited to conduct other orchestras such as the Camerata Academica Salzburg, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Orquesta National de Madrid, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra. He also cooperates regularly with the Basle Chamber Orchestra, with whom he has also made various tours and recordings. In 2004 Sir Simon Rattle invited him to conduct the Berliner Philharmoniker and play with them as soloist. The Berliner Zeitung praised his interpretation of works from the baroque and classical period as “simply ingenuous”. Antonini has also appeared with artists such as Cecilia Bartoli, Christophe Coin, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Viktoria Mullova and Giuliano Carmignola.
Giovanni Antonini has conducted Il Giardino Armonico in performances of Baroque operas such as Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Pergolesi’s La serva padrona, Handel’s Agrippina and Aci, Galatea e Polifemo. Highlights in 2010 include performances of Handel’s La Resurrezione and Vivaldi’s Ottone in villa in various European cities.
Antonini’s numerous and highly successful recordings with Il Giardino Armonico have won many prizes, including the Diapason d’or, Choc du Monde de la Musique, Grand Prix des Discophiles, Gramophone Award, Echo Award, the Caecilia Award of Belgium and the Fondazione Cini Award of Venice. In 2001 he received a Grammy® Award and Diapason d’or as conductor of The Vivaldi Album recorded together with Cecilia Bartoli for Decca.
In May 2008 Giovanni Antonini and Il Giardino Armonico signed an exclusive recording agreement with Decca/L’Oiseau-Lyre. In 2009 they released Handel’s 12 Concerti grossi op. 6 (Echo Award “Ensemble of the Year” 2009), an album entitled Il pianto di Maria, with mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink (a programme which was toured throughout Europe) and the greatly acclaimed Sacrificium recorded with Cecilia Bartoli (Diapason d’or, Choc de Classica, Classique d’or RTL, Diamant d’Opéra 2010), now also available on DVD.