Jonathan Cohen


Jonathan Cohen is one of Britain's finest young musicians. He has forged a remarkable career as a conductor, cellist and keyboardist. Well known for his passion and commitment to chamber music Jonathan is equally at home in such diverse activities as baroque opera and the classical symphonic repertoire. He is Artistic Director of Arcangelo, Associate Conductor of Les Arts Florissants, Artistic Director of Tetbury Festival and Artistic Partner of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Jonny becomes Music Director of Les Violons du Roy from the 2018-19 season and in the interim he is Music Director Designate.

This summer sees Jonathan conducting Mozart's Figaro at Glyndebourne, as well as appearances with Isabelle Faust at Wigmore Hall for their 115th Anniversary concert and major European festivals with his ensemble Arcangelo. Jonathan founded Arcangelo in 2010 and strives to perform high quality and specially created projects. He tours with them to exceptional halls and festivals such as Wigmore Hall where they have a Residency in the 16-17 season, Philharmonie Berlin, Vienna Musikverein, Salzburg Festival, and Carnegie Hall New York. Recent highlights include a European tour with Vilde Frang with concerts at Oslo Opera House and Tonhalle Zürich. Jonathan conducts Arcangelo for their BBC Proms debut at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Arcangelo are busy and much in demand in the recording studio, partnering with fine soloists such as Iestyn Davies (their disc Arias for Guadagni won the Recital Category at the 2012 Gramophone Awards), Anna Prohaska, and Christopher Purves on Hyperion Records. Their Mozart disc with Vilde Frang on Warner Classics (2015) reached No. 1 in the UK specialist classical chart and received an Echo Klassik Concert Award. Together with ‘Scene!’ with Christiane Karg, Arcangelo’s disc Arias for Benucci with Matthew Rose was nominated for a 2016 International Opera Award. Their next release is a disc of CPE Bach Cello Concerti with Nicolas Altstaedt on Hyperion Records.

This season, Jonathan also performs with Les Violons du Roy, Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Garsington Festival Opera and Chorus, and La Scintilla Orchestra at Zurich Opera.

October 2016 - This biography must not be edited without the permission of Askonas Holt Ltd.

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Theatre des Champs Elysees, PARIS

CPE BACH Sinfonia in G major Wq 180, H. 655
HAYDN Cello Concerto in D major
CPE BACH Cello Concerto in A major, Wq.172
HAYDN Symphony No.47 in G major

Cello: Anne Gastinell
Orchestre de Chambre de Paris

Wigmore Hall, LONDON

BACH Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV4
Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, BWV106
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No.6 in B flat major, BWV1051
TELEMANN Du aber Daniel, gehe hin, TWV4:17

Lydia Teuscher soprano
Alex Potter countertenor
Andrew Tortise tenor
Thomas Bauer baritone

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Le Nozze di Figaro

Glyndebourne Festival Opera

“With no weak links in the cast and the effervescent musical direction of Jonathan Cohen, this revival of Michael Grandage’s 2012 production is a delight… Under Jonathan Cohen’s taut yet effervescent musical direction the intricacies of the score make their appreciable marks, too, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on responsive form.” George Hall, The Guardian 4 July 2016
"From the opening notes of the overture, Jonathan Cohen and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment gave us a crisply vivid account of the score. Cohen used the period instruments to keep the textures light, yet vivid, and to allow the music to move without seeming overly rushed. Individual numbers were shaped finely, but there was an over-arching sense to the performance too, matching Grandage's desire to have the action move seamlessly through the day. There was some lovely continuo playing from Ashok Gupta (forte piano) and Jonathan Manson (cello), responsive and imaginative without overly drawing attention to itself."  Robert Hugill, Opera Today, 4 July 2016
"Tying all this together was the immaculate performance of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, under the baton of Jonathan Cohen. Particularly for a romantic comedy, Le nozze di Figaro is quite a long opera, and Mozart didn’t have nearly as many resources of varied instrumentation available to him as later composers. But the OAE produced music with immense variety, rhythms and moods continually changing, but always accented to keep your interest and to give a constant sense of forward propulsion." David Karlin, Bachtrack, 4 July 2016
"Ashok Gupta and Jonathan Manson provided witty Fortepiano and ‘cello continuo respectively, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment played stylishly for Jonathan Cohen, the wind instruments being especially fine." Melanie Eskenazi, Music OMH, 4 July 2016
"… the intrigues and sudden compromising revelations are played with such delicious comic timing, swept along by Jonathan Cohen’s brisk but flexible conducting." Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 5 July 2016

Concert 05 February 2016

With Vilde Frang and Arcangelo at St John's Smith Square

"The Mozart symphony was as intimate as a chamber piece, the opening Allegro moderato was elegant yet strongly phrased. There was a great contrast of dynamics and attack, something which seemed to fascinate the composer and which Cohen and Arcangelo brought out. Particularly in the development, where there was a great deal going in in the texture the piece, the result was surprisingly dramatic with some elegantly vital playing... Under Cohen's relaxed, amiable yet acute direction, all performers seemed vividly involved and were clearly enjoying themselves." Robert Hugill, Planet Hugil 07 February 2016

Concert 17 November 15

Library of Congress with Anne Sophie von Otter

"Anne Sofie von Otter has reached a career level at which she gets to do whatever the heck she wants... For one thing, she can work with whomever she wants. She is reacting to this by cherry-picking from the world’s store of massively gifted young artists to collaborate with on a variety of projects — including the lutenist Thomas Dunford and the keyboardist Jonathan Cohen, with whom she performed a (mostly) early-music concert at the Library of Congress on Tuesday night." Anne Midgette Classical, The Washington Post, 18 November 2015

Music of Dowland, Purcell, and a selection of Airs de cour

Concert 09 November 2015

With Anne Sofie von Otter and Thomas Dunford

“Anne Sofie von Otter and Friends” filled Paine Hall to capacity for the Boston Early Music Festival Concert Series on Sunday. No vanity project this, for the musically omnivorous Swedish mezzo-soprano, but rather an intimate colloquy among three supremely gifted colleagues. Otter’s voice, Thomas Dunford’s theorbo, and Jonathan Cohen’s chamber organ and harpsichord playing came together with the intimacy of a great jazz trio, exploring mostly Baroque repertoire in an emotional range from sublime to delightfully ridiculous." James C.S. Liu, Classical Scene, 13 November 2015

JS Bach

Violin Concertos

With Alina Ibragimova

“Jonathan Cohen's choice of Lute as well as harpsichord among the continuo forces invites another distinctive feature. In slow movements, the lutenist (Thomas Dunford) gently animates the underlying slow, meditative orchestral blocks which frame the solo episodes. In BWV 1042, the combination of the persistent repeated bass, lute, almost inaudible violin entry, and quietly pulsing middle orchestral strings add up to quite a breathtaking effect. The final movements are spectacular. In Bach's 'very fast' gigue ending to BWV 1041, Arcangelo strings and Ibragimova are fearless..." (five stars) George Pratt, BBC Music Magazine, December 2015
"Character-filled, spontaneous performances bring Bach's violin concertos to life in this attractive new recording by Alina Ibragimova and Arcangelo…. conducted from the harpsichord by Jonathan Cohen. On her Channel Classics recording of Bach Violin Concertos, Rachel Podger made do with an ensemble of six, yet Arcangelo’s sound is by no means congested. Instead, it’s light and airy, while Thomas Dunford’s lute, placed well forward in the mix, has an improvisatory quality that acts as a spur to Ibragimova’s high-spirited virtuosity." Nick Kimberley, Sinfini Music, 6 November 2015
"... top-notch Baroque band, Arcangelo, under Jonathan Cohen. The second track, an A minor Adagio, is an irresistible starting-point, with Ibragimova's subtly shaded melody woven through rich orchestral chords and the flutter of lute. Yet, one track on, the Finale of the same piece is a joyous romp in Gigue time, managing an almost percussive propulsion without a drum in sight." William Dart, New Zealand Herald, 17 January 2016

Concert 15 October 2015

With Les Violons du Roy

“What musical intelligence! ... Jonathan Cohen, not choosing that path, appears as one of the spokesmen of "Baroque 2.0." He has understood the benefits of moving on to another stage.... This is the exploration of a wider range of nuances and subtleties in many combinations and colourings.” Le Devoir, 17 October 2015

Arias for Benucci Recording

With Arcangelo/Matthew Rose

"Francesco Benucci was the star comic baritone around whom Emperor Joseph II’s Italian opera company revolved, and therefore the man for whom Mozart wrote some of his choicest roles, notably Figaro. Matthew Rose gives us generous chunks of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas mingled with arias by Salieri, Sarti and Martin y Soler, which all sound strong, thanks partly to the energised playing of Arcangelo, under Jonathan Cohen’s nuanced direction. Rose is hugely impressive, his deep, robust bass-baritone flexible and expressive, even if it doesn’t have the insouciance that would come from having lighter high notes. In Guglielmo’s duet with Dorabella (soprano Katherine Watson), Rose is perhaps more avuncular than seductive, but he otherwise captures each character succinctly, from Mozart’s schemers to Salieri’s bloodthirsty King Axur to the very different self-importance of Sarti’s Frasconio, who leaps into falsetto as he imagines the women weeping over him. An apt tribute from one fine singer to another." Erica Jeal, The Guardian, 15 October 2015



NI Opera & Irish Chamber Orchestra, Limerick

"The IYO cast – Máire Flavin, Anna Devin, Rachel Kelly, Dawn Burns, Padraic Rowan, Sharon Carty, Brendan Collins and Alan Ewing – performs with an unrestrained energy that is more than matched by the Irish Chamber Orchestra, directed with fire from the harpsichord by Jonathan Cohen." Irish Times, 10 September 2015

Bach Mass in B Minor Recording

With Arcangelo

Jonathan Cohen’s rejection of the generic, within a grand and ravishing overview, is what propels an overwhelming sense here that this reading deserves to be taken very seriously. Quite how in performance one ‘reads’ the span of a piece whose spiritual and intellectual symmetries are potentially so forbidding raises many issues but Cohen’s unforced feel for tactus, initially heard in the prima prattica (the more archaic) movements is revelatory in its coherence...the most distinctive attribute here is how Cohen, with his exceptional choral and instrumental forces, resists pursuing a single overall textural ideal and instead seeks an evolving, unrushed relationship between each movement according to the musical stage in the journey...This is a performance where character and rich dimension emerge from within a patient and naturally projected vision of Bach’s most celebrated compendium. Gramophone Magazine 'Editors Choice' November 2014

Arcangelo Concert

Wigmore Hall

From his vantage point at the harpsichord, Cohen didn’t always need to do much conducting: less evidence of lethargy than scrupulous preparation allied to a pleasure in the freedom of performance. His interpolations of instrumental works from other composers — Merula’s joyous Ciaccona, installed midway through one of Monteverdi’s madrigals at the point where we’re invited to dance, and a trio by Dario Castello — supplied contrasting textures and highlighted the breadth of expertise he had to showcase. The Times, 20 March 2014

Festive Messiahs 2013/14

St Paul Chamber Orchestra

"And the local tradition is in very safe hands, indeed. Thursday evening's first of three sold-out performances was exceptionally well executed, balancing a fine taste of the familiar with some pleasant surprises. Under the direction of English conductor Jonathan Cohen, the orchestra and its SPCO Chorale proved spirited collaborators for the four vocal soloists, employing a gentle touch in unexpected places and embracing lushness to fine effect." - Rob Hubbard
"Conductor for the day was Jonathan Cohen, a Baroque specialist, music director of the group Arcangelo and associate conductor of William Christie's Les Arts Florissants. His tempos for this Messiah were even and unhurried. Not once was it driven hard. Not once were any of the recitatives, arias or choruses overstated." Herald Scotland 3 January 2014 - Michael Tumelty

Debut Concerts December 2013

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

"Cohen bound the forces together with non-dictatorial precision, coaxing such wonderful moments as the triumphant Gloria – resplendent with its cream topping of three trumpets – or the moving simplicity of the Et Incarnatus est with expressive integrity. This wasn’t a Bach performance characterised by incessant high energy, but one that made everything of the light and shade, the sighing motifs, the virtuosic instrumental solos, and the seamless beauty of a work that, rather extraordinarily, was probably never conceived as an entity.

The tempered eloquence of the orchestra was matched by vocal soloists tuned into Cohen’s singular mindset – the pearl-like clarity of soprano Lorna Anderson, if occasionally uncentred on the note; Kitty Whately’s mellow mezzo-soprano, the effortless radiance of tenor Andrew Tortise, and Stephan Loges’ magisterial bass. A moving performance.
The Scotsman 14 December 2013 - Ken Walton

Arcangelo's New York Debut December 2013

Zankel Hall

"It was an auspicious New York debut for Arcangelo, which was founded in 2010 by Mr. Cohen, the associate conductor of William Christie’s Arts Florissants."
New York Times 19 Nov 2013 - Zachary Woolfe

Johann Sebastian Bach

3 Sonatas for Viola Da Gamba and Harpsichord Recording

Genuin Select

"An absolute revelation: If Bach's 6 suites for Solo Cello are your thing, you will certainly enjoy his splendid three sonatas for gamba (or cello) and harpsichord. They are more outgoing and florid, more formal and less personal, although at moments they are deeply moving. When they are played as they are here by Nicholas Altstaedt, one of the cello realm's most brilliant young princes, and Jonathan Cohen, rising like a shooting star through the period performance sector, we are guaranteed that every bar will have been thought out to within an inch of its life, then let go to explore spontaneously according to the musicians' larger overarching interpretive principles and schemes. The result of 43 minutes of such cosmically-designed, lapidarian beauty will resonate for a lifetime." Huffington Post 17 September 2013

Early Music Series: Anna Prohaska

Wigmore Hall

Jonathan Cohen, director of the 15-strong band, cleverly arranged the arias in a continuous sequence interspersed with instrumental numbers, artfully grouped by key so that one number seemed to 'lead’ to another — with the odd harmonic twist to give an emotional jolt Ivan Hewett, for The Guardian

Concert 8 November 2012

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Sarah Connolly

"Jonathan Cohen’s sensitive direction of the OAE and Connolly’s vocal lustre effortlessly carried the day." The Evening Standard, 9 November 2012

Concert 8 November 2012

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

"under Jonathan Cohen’s direction the multi-instrumentalist wind players blew merry storms, while the strings achieved ravishing purity." The Independent, 9 November 2012


Le nozze di Figaro

Glyndebourne Touring Opera

"Under Jonathan Cohen, the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra sound great — the overture ripped into at a fair lick and not too delicately, an announcement of fun to come." The Evening Standard, 7 November 2012


Le nozze di Figaro

Glyndebourne Touring Opera

"Jonathan Cohen's conducting of the overture proved at once that he was master of mood and mischief, and his control of the big ensembles yielded thrilling results."

Opera Magazine November 2012

Guadagni Recording

With Iestyn Davies and Arcangelo

"Director Jonathan Cohen and his ensemble Arcangelo capture the rapid, unexpected twists of the younger Bach's radical imagination." BBC Music Magazine, August 2012.

Concert 15 March 2012

Noord Nederlands Orkest

"After the interval followed a wonderful performance of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. The relatively young conductor Jonathan Cohen is an early music specialist. His approach was heard in his clear and direct tonal language. The dynamic nuances and precise playing gave the performance depth and colour. With the same approach in the third symphony, the performance grew into true musical enjoyment."
Friesch Dagblad, March 2012




Violin Concerto in A minor BWV1041
Violin Concerto in E major BWV1042 
Violin Concerto in A major BWV1055
Violin Concerto in G minor BWV1056
Violin Concerto in D minor BWV1052

Alina Ibragimova (violin),
Jonathan Cohen (conductor)
Hyperion CDA68068

Mozart: Concertos; Haydn: Sinfonia concertante

Sinfonia concertante in B flat major Hob I:105

Oboe Concerto in C major  K314 K271k 
Bassoon Concerto in B flat major K191 K186e

Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen (conductor), Ilya Gringolts (violin), Nicolas Altstaedt (cello), Alfredo Bernardini (oboe), Peter Whelan (bassoon)
Hyperion CDA68090


Concert arias by Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart and Mendelssohn
Jonathan Cohen (conductor)
Christiane Karg (soprano)
Berlin Classics


Mozart Violin Concertos 1 & 5
Sinfonia Concertante

Jonathan Cohen (conductor)
Vilde Frang (violin)
Maxim Rysanov (viola)
Warner Classics

Monteverdi, Madrigals of Love and Loss

Jonathan Cohen (conductor)

Volgendo il ciel – Movete al mio bel suon SV154    
Volgendo il ciel – Movete al mio bel suon SV154    
Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda SV153    
Or che 'l ciel e la terra e 'l vento tace SV147    
Ohimè, dov'è il mio ben, dov'è il mio core? SV140    
Zefiro torna e 'l bel tempo rimena SV108    
Ohimè il bel viso, ohimè il soave sguardo SV112    
Sestina 'Lagrime d'amante al sepolcro dell'amata' SV111
Hyperion CDA68019