Called by The Strad as ”a remarkable artist who breathes new life into well-worn repertoire”, Jean-Guihen Queyras is a true master who embraces the old and the new. Whereas his “interpretation of Bach’s music” is “not to be missed” (Bachtrack) and his recording of Bach’s complete Cello Suites has won him such accolades as Diapason d’Or de l’Année 2008 and CHOC du Monde de la Musique, he is also a champion of contemporary music and has premiered works by leading composers including Michael Jarrell, Thomas Larcher and Bruno Mantovani. No stranger to Le French May audience, the cellist will bring to the festival the second part of his acclaimed “Six Suites, Six Echoes” project, for which he commissioned six new works to accompany each of Bach’s six monumental Cello Suites. Surely a feast for the ears and soul!
Jean-Guihen Queyras enjoys an enviable reputation as a musician of exceptional versatility and integrity. His musical horizons are seemingly boundless and he is in great demand both as a soloist with international orchestras and conductors, a chamber musician and as a solo performer.
Queyras’ particular focus on repertoire for solo cello, which articulately demonstrates the exceptional narrative and expressive force of the monodic instrument, led him to devise and perform several series of concerts featuring the Suites by JS Bach alongside contemporary works and he commissioned six composers (Kurtág, Harvey, Mochizuki, Amy, Nodaïra & Fedele) to write an “echo” to each of the six Bach Suites for solo cello, in a project called “Six Suites, Six Echos”.
His extensive repertoire incorporates a number of contemporary works and he has given several world premières including Thomas Larcher’s cello concerto Ouroboros, concertos by Ivan Fedele, Gilbert Amy, Michael Jarrell, among others. He has also premiered and recorded French composer Bruno Mantovani’s concerto with the Saarbrücken Radio Sinfonieorchester and Phillippe Schoeller’s Wind’s Eyes with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg.
As a solo cellist of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Queyras recorded the Ligeti Cello Concerto for Deutsche Grammophon, conducted by Pierre Boulez (Gramophone Contemporary Music Award). He recorded Dutilleux’s Tout un Monde Lointain for Arte Nova/BMG and Boulez’s Messagesquisse for Deutsche Grammophon (Gramophone Contemporary Music Award).
He has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras including The Philharmonia, Orchestre de Paris, NHK Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, Philadelphia, Tonhalle Zürich, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande and Netherlands Philharmonique, under the baton of conductors such as Franz Brüggen, Günther Herbig, Ivan Fisher, Philippe Herreweghe, Jiří Bělohlávek, Olivier Knussen and Sir Roger Norrington. He is a regular soloist with several early music ensembles such as Freiburg Baroque and Akadamie für Alte Musik Berlin and he made his Carnegie Hall début in New York with Concerto Köln in March 2004.
Queyras has made several successful recordings for Harmonia Mundi and, following the success of his much anticipated recording of Bach’s complete solo Suites in 2008 for which he received immediate acclaim (Diapason d’Or and CD of the month in Diapason, CHOC du Monde de la Musique etc), he has released two further recordings; a Debussy-Poulenc CD with pianist Alexandre Tharaud, which was awarded the Diapason d’Or de l’Année in 2008 and ‘Cello Concertos of the 21st Century’, released last year.
He made his BBC Proms début to unanimous acclaim (Haydn in C) in 2008 and appears regularly at the Aldeburgh Festival. His regular chamber music partners include the pianists Alexander Melnikov and Alexandre Tharaud and the violinist Isabelle Faust. He is a member of the Arcanto Quartet with Tabea Zimmermann, Antje Weithaas and Daniel Sepec, and performs regularly with Zarb specialists Kevan and Bijan Chemirani.
In November 2002, Jean-Guihen Queyras received the City of Toronto Glenn Gould International Protégé Prize in Music, awarded to him by Pierre Boulez and the Glenn Gould Foundation, and was made “Instrumental Soloist of the Year” at the French Classical Music Awards as well as “Artist of the Year” by the readers of the Diapason magazine.
Jean-Guihen Queyras is Professor at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg, Germany and one of the Artistic Directors of the “Rencontres Musicales de Haute-Provence” which take place in Forcalquier in July each year.
He has played a cello made by Gioffredo Cappa in 1696, on loan from Mécénat Musical Société Générale since November 2005.