Founded in 1989 by Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras during the preparation of their project on Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Canticum Beatae Virginis, the orchestra Le Concert des Nations was born out of the need for an orchestra of period instruments capable of performing a repertory spanning from the Baroque to the Romantic period (1600-1850). Its name comes from François Couperin’s work Les Nations, a concept which represents the coming together of musical tastes and the idea that Art in Europe would always bear its own particular stamp, that of the Age of Enlightenment.
Le Concert des Nations under the direction of Jordi Savall was the first orchestra to be composed of a majority of musicians from Latin countries (Spain, Latin America, France, Italy, Portugal, etc.), all leading international specialists in the performance of early music using original period instruments on historical principles. From the outset, the group’s manifest aim has been to raise audiences’ awareness of an historical repertory of great quality by combining rigorous respect for the original spirit of each work with a revitalising approach to their performance, as is apparent from their recordings of works by Charpentier, J. S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Handel, Marais, Arriaga, Beethoven, Purcell, Dumanoir, Lully, Biber, Boccherini, Rameau and Vivaldi.
In 1992 Le Concert des Nations made its opera debut with a production of Martín i Soler’s Una Cosa Rara staged at the Théâtre des Champs Élysées in Paris, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid. The group subsequently performed in Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Teatro Real in Madrid, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Arsenal in Metz and the Teatro Regio in Turin. In 2002 the production returned to the re-opened Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, where it was recorded for a BBC-Opus Arte DVD. It was subsequently also staged at the Palais des Arts in Brussels, the Grand-Théâtre in Bordeaux and the Piccolo Teatro in Milan during the Mito Festival. In 1995 the orchestra performed another opera by Martín i Soler, Il Burbero di Buon Cuore, in Montpellier, followed in 2000 by Juan Hidalgo and Calderón de la Barca’s Celos aun del Ayre matan staged in a concert version in Barcelona and Vienna. Recent productions have included Vivaldi’s Farnace, staged at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, and Vivaldi’s Il Teuzzone, performed in a semi-concert version at the Opéra Royal at Versailles.
In recent years, Le Concert des Nations has expanded its repertory with masterpieces of symphonic works such as Joseph Haydn’s Creation, J. S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and G. F. Handel’s Messiah, as well as exploring works from the Classical and Romantic periods. In 2020, the orchestra marked Beethoven’s 250th anniversary by performing his complete symphonies in concerts and recording the double CD Beethoven Révolution to the acclaim of international critics.
Le Concert des Nations’ numerous recordings have won various awards and distinctions, notably including the Midem Classical Award and the Schallplattenkritik Prize. The impact of their productions, recordings and performances in major cities and music festivals around the world have earned them recognition as one of the finest orchestras specialising in performance using period instruments.
Le Concert des Nations is nominated to “Orchestra of the Year 2023” for Gramophone Magazine.