“Concerto Palatino is truly becoming an absolute point of reference in the repertoire of the high Baroque.”—Diapason
The names Bruce Dickey and Charles Toet are practically synonymous with the modern revival of the cornetto and the Baroque trombone and are largely responsible for the enormous advances that have been made in the last 20 years in playing standards on these instruments. In a collaboration of some 25 years, they have together trained a whole generation of cornetto and trombone players, many of whom have become regular members of Concerto Palatino.
While the core group is comprised of two cornetti and three trombones, this formation is frequently augmented by the addition of brass players, strings, or singers as necessary. Inevitably, much of their repertoire is sacred, as these instruments were a fixture of musical chapels in both the Catholic south and the Protestant north, from the time of the first flowering of Flemish polyphony in the early 16th century through their twilight years at the time of J.S. Bach, one of the last composers to employ them in a serious way.
Concerto Palatino frequently collaborates with other leading ensembles, in
particular Cantus Cölln (Konrad Junghänel), Collegium Vocale Ghent (Philippe Herreweghe), Tragicomedia (Steven Stubbs and Erin Headley), the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (Ton Koopman), and the Bach Collegium Japan (Masaki Suzuki).
Concerto Palatino places a high priority on unearthing neglected gems of music history and giving them a place in the concert hall and record catalogs alongside the works of established masters. Thus, in addition to highly acclaimed recordings of Schütz, Gabrieli, and Monteverdi, they have made premiere recordings of the Marian Vespers of Francesco Cavalli, the Missa Maria Concertata of Christoph Strauss, and Palestrina’s Missa sine nomine preserved in a manuscript of J. S. Bach. Their numerous recordings for EMI Reflexe, Accent, and harmonia mundi France have received high acclaim. In particular, a major series of recordings together with Cantus Cölln (Vespers of Monteverdi and Rosenmüller, Schütz’ Psalmen Davids, the Selva Morale of Monteverdi) has won numerous prestigious awards.
Bruce Dickey was a trumpeter by training, but a contact with the recorder while still a student sparked an interest in early music which he pursued while earning a degree in musicology at the Indiana University School of Music. A year of recorder studies at the renowned Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel (Switzerland) turned into a permanent job as teacher of cornetto at the same institution. Many years of performing and recording with the leading figures in the field of early music (Jordi Savall, Andrew Parrott, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gustav Leonhardt, Ton Koopman, Monica Huggett, Philippe Herreweghe, and others) provided the background for what has become his principal activity, the ensemble Concerto Palatino.
Bruce Dickey can be heard on more than five dozen recordings. His solo
recording ("Quel lascivissimo cornetto...") on Accent with the ensemble
Tragicomedia was awarded the prestigious Diapason d’or.
In addition to performing, Bruce Dickey is much in demand as a teacher, both of the cornetto and of seventeenth-century performance practice. In addition to his regular class at the Schola Cantorum he has taught at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and the Early Music Institute at Indiana University as well as master classes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. He is also active in research on performance practice, and has published, together with Michael Collver, a catalog of the surviving cornetto repertoire. In 1997, together with his wife Candace Smith, he founded Artemisia Editions, a small publishing house which produces editions of music from17thcentury Italian convents. In 2000 the Historic Brass Society bestowed on him the prestigious Christopher Monk Award for "his monumental work in cornetto performance, historical performance practice and musicological scholarship".
In 1981, Bruce Dickey moved to Italy, partly to be closer to the origins and source materials for his instrument and its music. He currently lives in Bologna, home of the original Concerto Palatino and of the best pasta in the world.
Charles Toet was born in 1951 in the Hague. He received his musical training at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague, where he studied modern trombone with Anne Bijlsma (senior) and where he began to specialize in early music and baroque trombone, which he now teaches at the same institution as well as at the Schola Cantorum Basliensis (Basel) and the Musikhochschule in Trossingen (Germany). He currently divides his energies between the seventeenth century (mostly with Concerto Palatino of which he is the co-founder) and the Classical and early Romantic repertoires, played on original instruments with such period orchestras as La Petite Bande (Sigiswald Kuijken), The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (Ton Koopman), and the Orchestra des Champs-Elysées (Philippe Herreweghe).
He has performed and recorded extensively with Bruce Dickey and Concerto Palatino and with numerous other ensembles of particular importance to the history of early music, including, in addition to the ones mentioned above, Syntagma Musicum of Amsterdam, The Taverner Players of London, the Hilliard Ensemble, Hespérion XX, and the vocal ensemble Currende.