RESTORATION is a group of musicians dedicated to exploring and bringing to life the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. We use historical instruments and playing styles to recreate the spirit of the baroque era, with its subtlety, flexibility, rhythmic energy and rhetorical inflections – a vivid and expressive language so different from that of our own time.
Our aim as musicians is to reconnect with this baroque world as far as we are able, to re-imagine the cultural context in which its music was originally produced, and thus enable it to move us with its most powerful voice. We live now in the 21st century and cannot escape the history and aesthetic of our own time. However, we believe that in our performances we should not capitulate to that 21st century aesthetic, which is driven by an anachronistic demand for self-expression, and which can paradoxically miniaturize and impoverish the music the more it tries to emulate modern excesses of speed and volume.
The group’s guiding principle is that this music speaks most directly to us with its original voice and inflections, and that modern audiences need no compromises to modern tastes and demands, to gain the greatest enjoyment and enlightenment from this window into the wonderfully foreign world of the past.
Restoration takes its name from that colourful era, the restoration of Charles II to the English throne in 1660 – the music of this time is central to the group’s repertoire, which extends from Purcell, Bach and Handel, to Haydn and Mozart and beyond. The name also suggests the art-restorer's process of revealing the original colours and dramatic impact of a treasured art-work.
Founding members Bronwen Pugh and Robert Petre (with soprano Rosalind Salas) returned to New Zealand from postgraduate study and professional experience overseas, and have worked for many years with local baroque specialists and visiting artists from the UK, Europe, USA, and Australia. Restoration has toured throughout New Zealand, and appeared in festivals including the NZ International Festival of the Arts. They have also specialized in exploring the rich and intricate relationship of baroque dance and music, with local dancers and international experts, giving performances and workshops. Restoration’s recording of the complete Pièces de clavecin en concerts by Jean-Philippe Rameau was released to critical acclaim, and their CD, Musick al’Italliana, recorded in London for the Meridian label, was very well reviewed in both New Zealand and the UK.