The Ensemble Recherche was formed in 1985, and while it can perform as a chamber ensemble, it describes its members as soloists and they certainly function that way. Indeed, the group typically performs small chamber works, such as duets, trios, and quartets and its size can contract to showcase the individual virtuosity of the players. The group will usually feature combinations involving piano, violin, viola, cello, clarinet, flute, oboe, percussion, and other instruments, as well as vocal soloists.
Since its inception, the Ensemble Recherche has premiered about 500 works by composers such as Wolfgang Rihm, Hèctor Parra, Brice Pauset, and Gérard Pesson. With the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, it helped establish and annually participate in educational and performance activities at the aforementioned Ensemble Akademie Freiburg, a yearly forum attended by musicians and composers. Several of Ensemble Recherche's recordings have been major events in contemporary music, like the 1995 Montaigne CD of Luigi Nono's Guai ai gelidi mostri and Omaggio a György Kurtág. Later recordings are hardly less notable, as evidenced by the 2009 Winter & Winter CD Schnee, a work-in-progress by Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen.