We get to the bottom of the quirky British vocal ensemble and its ‘beany’ Italian name.

N owadays, it seems every new music ensemble on the block has ‘gotta have a gimmick’ as they say. Of course, in a climate where it’s easier to stay home and catch the latest Berlin Phil gig streamed online – or maybe pop down to the cinema for an opera in HD and a bag of popcorn – an extra motivation to get off your backside is probably not such a bad thing. But originality in the concert hall isn’t as recent a phenomenon as you might think. British Renaissance and contemporary vocal ensemble I Fagiolini, whose name has been “misspelt, mispronounced and misunderstood throughout the world” as they are keen to let you know, has been thinking outside of the box since it was founded at Oxford University as long ago as 1986.

Novelty and freshness are bywords for this market-savvy group, and with programmes going by names like The Full Monteverdiand Tallis in Wonderland, they clearly sport a lively sense of humour. With 15 CDs under their collective belt and trailing a slew of awards, the group is about...

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