Jean-Guihen Queyras


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.

He has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras including the Philharmonia, Orchestre de Paris, NHK Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Tonhalle Zurich, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande and Netherlands Philharmonic under the baton of conductors such as Franz Brüggen, Günther Herbig, Ivan Fischer, Philippe Herreweghe, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jiri Belohlavek, Olivier Knussen and Sir Roger Norrington. He is a regular soloist with several early music ensembles such as Freiburger Barockorchester and Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.

Jean-Guihen is frequently asked to host artistic residencies. These have included projects in the Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and De Bijloke in Gent. He was “Artist in Residence” with the Hamburg-based chamber orchestra, Ensemble Resonanz, with whom he led and played several eclectic programmes in the Laieszhalle Hamburg, Köln Philharmonie, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord Paris, the Konzerthaus Wien and the Muziekgebouw Amsterdam. This season he will have ‘Carte Blanche’ at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and will also be ‘Artist-in-Residence’ with the Bochum Symphoniker.

Highlights of the forthcoming season include performances with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Rotterdam Philharmonic and Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana. He will also tour a complete Beethoven Sonata programme with the pianist Alexander Melnikov throughout Europe. Equally hailed for his landmark solo Bach recitals, Jean-Guihen will perform worldwide in the 14/15 season.

He is also an enthusiastic exponent of contemporary music and is committed to expanding the repertoire boundaries of his instrument. He regularly collaborates with composers such as Bruno Mantovani, Jörg Widmann and Pierre Boulez and has recently commissioned Thomas Larcher to compose a piece for solo cello and string orchestra which will be premiered in 2016. He has premiered Michael Jarrel’s concerto as well as that of Johannes-Maria Staud, which he premiered in the Konzerthaus Berlin and the Musikverein Wien in 2010 and has subsequently performed at the Salzburg Festival. In November 2014, he will perform Peter Eötvös’ cello concerto with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France for Eötvös’ 70th birthday celebrations and will perform Dutilleux’s concerto for the composer’s 100th anniversary.

He appears often at the Aldeburgh and Edinburgh Festivals and at the Wigmore Hall. His regular chamber music partners include the pianists Alexandre Tharaud and Alexander Melnikov and the violinist Isabelle Faust. He is a member of the Arcanto Quartet with Tabea Zimmermann, Antje Weithaas and Daniel Sepec. Jean-Guihen also performs with Zarb specialists Kevyan and Bijan Chemirani and will appear with them at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and at the Cheltenham Festival.

Jean-Guihen has made numerous recordings for harmonia mundi. His recording of Bach’s complete solo Suites received immediate acclaim (Diapason d’Or & CD of the Year in Diapason). Further highlights of his much-lauded catalogue include Cello Concertos of the 21st Century, Haydn & Monn’s Cello Concertos performed on a period instrument with the Freiburger Barockorchester, Debussy-Poulenc CD with pianist Alexandre Tharaud and, most recently, Elgar’s Cello Concerto & Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek. He is currently involved in an all Schumann project, recording the string trios with Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov, and the concertos with the Freiburger Barockorchester.

Jean-Guihen plays a cello made by Gioffredo Cappa in 1696, on loan from Mécénat Musical Société Générale since November 2005. He is a professor at the Musikhochschule Freiburg.

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Wigmore Hall, London

Beethoven - Cello Sonata No. 1 op. 5 No. 1
Beethoven - Cello Sonata No. 2 op. 5 No. 2
- Interval -
Beethoven - 7 Variations on "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen" for Cello and Piano, WoO 46
Beethoven - Cello Sonata No. 3 op. 69

Jean-Guihen Queyras, Cello
Alexander Melnikov, Piano

Wigmore Hall, London

Beethoven - 12 Variations on "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" in F Major op. 66
Beethoven - Cello Sonata No. 4 op. 102 No. 1
- Interval -
Beethoven - 12 Variations on "See the conquering hero comes" in G Major WoO 45
Beethoven - Cello Sonata No. 5 op. 102 No. 2

Jean-Guihen Queyras, Cello
Alexander Melnikov, Piano

Carnegie Hall, New York

Brahms: Symphony no.3 

Haydn: Cello Concerto in C major
Strauss: Suite from Der Rosenkavalier

Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin 
Jean-Guihen Queyras, cello

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Tout un Monde Lointain: 26 October 2013

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Royal Festival Hall London

**** The rarefied playing of cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras...His sophisticated imagination and virtuosity sensed out the ubiquitous inspiration of Baudelaire's verse. Hilary Finch, The Times
Jean Guihen Queyras, the thoughtful soloist, paid close attention to quality of tone at all times...Queyras’s intonation in the high terrain of ‘Gaze’ was admirably secure, while the central section of Dutilleux’s arch form, ‘Surges’, harnessed more of the orchestra’s inner power, with a commanding but clean sound. Ben Hogwood, ClassicalSource
***** Jean-Guihen Queyras showed that he had perfect control over his instrument, and seemed to relish the opportunity to play not only some of the piece’s stunning melodies, but also its moments of more angular pizzicato... Queyras’s playing has a uniquely warm sound and perfect technique.
Renée Reitsma, BachTrack

Elgar & Tchaikovsky

harmonia mundi CD: Cello Concerti

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Jiří Bělohlávek

*****Queyras has his own style and ideas and there are many passages here where you can experience his blend of mature, deeply felt insight into the music’s autumnal tone and his personal, luminous approach to it.

Technically, the performance is a marvel. The mellow timbre of his 1696 Gioffredo Cappa instrument is a pure joy. But allied to that, with orchestral playing of wisdom and idiomatic acumen under Jiří Bělohlávek, there is the sense that Queyras has made this recording through genuine love and perception of the Elgarian language.

With Dvořák’s Rondo and Silent Woods as points of eloquent repose – “a refreshing plunge into tender poetry, touched by grace”, as Queyras says – the main coupling here is Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, done in the bowdlerised but customarily performed version by Wilhelm Fitzenhagen. Classical poise, Romantic lyricism and lively, scintillating bravura coalesce to a magical degree here in a performance that is as thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Tchaikovsky as the Elgar is with Elgar’s. When it comes to mulling over discs of the year, this one will be a definite front-runner. Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph
I'm a fervent admirer of French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, particularly for the incredibly neat, compact and refined quality of his playing, elements that here bring an aura of sophistication and tremendous intellectual integrity to his new recording of the piece, with Jiri Belohlavek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in immaculately responsive and sympathetic accompaniment. Michael Tumelty, Herald Scotland
**** Recording the Elgar Concerto is always a major statement for a cellist, and the Canadian-born French soloist Jean-Guihen Queyras is no exception as his account joins the E section on the already buckling shelf. Undeterred by others’ famous recordings, though, he presents very much his own view of this much-loved work.

Queyras probes the concerto’s melancholy extremes without indulging in histrionics, sometimes whispering his pianissimos virtually without vibrato (admittedly this effect is rather on-trend at present, but he makes it relatively convincing). The BBCSO, much on home turf, seem in their element, with Bělohlávek striking a good balance and leading a rounded, focused interpretation.

The performers find an ideal bridge from Britain towards Russia in two short works full of Dvořák’s gentle Czech wistfulness, before launching into the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations – which, if anything, succeeds even better than the Elgar. Queyras has apparently detected ‘a fascinating mirror effect’ in this programme, by which each composer is ‘playing on contrasts to elucidate his intentions’. With cellist and orchestra alike focusing on the notion of contrast, the results are suitably lively and colourful. The total impression not only sparkles with virtuosity but engages us with crucial charm, and and that vivid yet not overstated individuality. Jessica Duchen, Sinfini Music


Concerto in C Major: 11 March 2012

LA Chamber Orchestra/Hugh Wolff, Piatigorsky Festival, Los Angeles

In contrast, Jean-Guihen Queyras’ fresh, alert and original performance of the earlier C Major concerto was, I thought, the highlight of the evening. The French cellist’s tone is light and fragrant. He plays with not only a sense of pert 18th century style but also a modernity as if this were music newly composed. Perhaps that is because Queyras also pays attention to new music; it was a shame that he was not asked to play one of the interesting contemporary concertos he has premiered elsewhere. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times


Cello Concerto - World Premiere: 3 February 2012

Utah Symphony Orchestra/Thierry Fischer, Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City

'Emergencies' is a sonically adventurous, highly virtuosic work, and French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras was more than equal to the task. The soloist handled everything Jarrell tossed at him - extensive harmonics, two-handed pizzicato and other unusual techniques - with consummate command. Catherine Reese Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune
Jean-Guihen Queyras did a spectacular job with his extremely virtuosic part. His playing was vibrant and made the music come alive. Edward Reichel, Reichel Recommends


Cello Concerti: 25 October 2011

Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin, Berlin Philharmonie

Queyras soloed in five concertos, playing a spikeless cello with a pointy Baroque bow. His performance was spotless. In the Cello Concertos in F major (RV 412), G minor (RV 416), and A minor (RV 419), he showed just how freely a soloist can play when totally unencumbered by technical difficulty: rubatos dictated by the musical rhetoric, bravura ascending runs in 16ths that took flight, earthy stabs of the bow at the hell in rapid string-crossing, and big virtuoso cadences ending with the whole bow in an up bow. In the solo movements the melodies rang out with unforced purity...Beautifully refined playing like this, unpretentious and so relaxed, takes years of training and experience to achieve...Always precise, with an ear for colours and textures (and the occasional improvisando flourish), this is exactly how Vivaldi should be played. Mai Kawabata,

Duo Recital: 30 August 2011

Alexandre Tharaud (Piano), Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

**** In Kodály's demanding Sonata for Solo Cello Op 8, Jean-Guihen Queyras more than rose to the occasion with his virtuosic account of music heavily infused with the biting rhythms of Hungarian folksong tradition. Susan Nickalls,
****In an astonishing display of musicianship and virtuosity at the Queen's Hall yesterday morning, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras demonstrated a comprehensive and multi-faceted mastery of his art. His powers of musical characterisation are limitless. Certainly I do not think I have heard such a probing interpretation of Debussy's flawless Cello Sonata. Queyras unfolded revelation upon revelation in an astoundingly characterised account of the piece that captured every quirky detail of the music, steering flawlessly through its mercurial shifts of mood and soaring through a finale that felt completely liberated from convention.
At the other end of the programme the two musicians were equally at ease with the lightening-fast changes of mood and temperament in Poulenc's wonderful Cello Sonata, typically abrupt in its juxtapositions, and tumbling from rich, soupy sentiment and cartoon-like capers into pure musical acrobatics, all dispatched with dexterity and wit.
At the heart of the programme lay a gripping performance of Kodaly's huge Sonata for solo cello, which had audience, BBC technicians and all manner of critics grinning inanely, gasping in disbelief, and all asking the same question, 'how did you do that?'
The Sonata is a fearsomely intense piece, fuelled by the earthy tang of Hungarian folk music and a wonderful feeling of rhapsody. But it is also immensely sophisticated, as Queyras demonstrated in a fantastic performance of unflinching concentration.
And in its finale, the cellist went off like a rocket, creating an amazing illusion of first two, then three musicians playing simultaneously. How did he do it? Dazzling stuff.
Michael Tumelty, Herald Scotland


Cello Concerto: 20 July 2011

BBC PROMS, BBC Symphony Orchestra/Jiri Belohlavek, Royal Albert Hall, London

**** Jean-Guihen Queyras was the appealingly direct soloist, beautifully capturing the deep veins of sadness that run through the last two movements. As an encore, Queyras played the Sarabande from Bach's Second Cello Suite, a moment of extraordinary intimacy, in which time seemed to stand still. Tim Ashley, The Guardian
**** Belohlávek and the soloist, Jean-Guihen Queyras, brought to Dvorák's Cello Concerto a captivatingly wistful quality, allowing themselves at times a quite daring amount of expressive freedom. Barry Millington, Evening Standard
**** There's a wonderful poise and balance about everything Queyras does, with no rhetorical exaggeration. His playing reached a pitch of refinement at that touching moment in the middle movement, where the cello and a handful of orchestral players seem to be improvising together. The moment can easily come adrift, but here it had just the right balance of discipline and freedom. Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraphy


Cello Concerto in C: 5 May 2011

Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Olari Elts, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

Stealing the spotlight was cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras who, along with his beautiful Gioffredo Cappa 1696 cello, dominated the stage with his fiery and charming performance of Haydn’s C major concerto. Catherine Robb, The Herald


Tout un Monde Lointain: 17 June 2010

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Jonathan Nott, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Jean-Guihen Queyras was the elegant cello soloist, his tones urbane and mellow, his articulation sparkling, and Nott and a huge CBSO collaborated attentively. Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post


Solo Cello Suites: 17 July 2009

Zaha Hadid Pavilion

Queyras confirmed that he was equally at ease in a concert performance of Bach Suites as in his magnificent recording for Harmonia Mundi: the elegance of his manner, the refinement of his elocution, the variety of his imagination worked wonders. In his playing no hint of tie or restraint, just freedom, weightlessness, a true architectural scroll. Renaud Machart, Le Monde


Debussy, Dutilleux & Ravel

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Quatuor à cordes op.10
en sol mineur / G minor / g-moll

Henri Dutilleux (1916)
"Ainsi la nuit" pour quatuor à cordes

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Quatuor à cordes en Fa majeur / F major / F-dur

Arcanto Quartet
harmonia mundi

XXIst Century Cello Concertos

Mantovani, Schoeller, Amy

Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken/Günther Herbig
Orchestre Philarmonique de Radio France/Alexander Briger
Orchestre de Paris/Gilbert Amy
Jean-Guihen Queyras, Cello
harmonia mundi