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Musical World

Jean-Guihen Queyras

  • Cellist


Jean-Guihen Queyras press reviews

Birmingham Symphony Hall – with CBSO and Jonathan Nott, Dutilleux cello concerto
Jean-Guihen Queyras was the elegant cello soloist, his tones urbane and mellow, his articulation sparkling, and Nott and a huge CBSO collaborated attentively.
Birmingham, June 2010

Library of Congress – Washington, with Alexandre Tharaud
Debussy wanted French music to retain its esprit français, free from the influence of tidy Germanic structures. To that end he wrote his Cello Sonata (in 1915, during World War I), which barely resembles a sonata at all -- Debussy's musical touché. Queyras and Tharaud gave a smart, intricately tuned performance, highlighting the music's impish sense of improvisation and its array of modern sounds. Queyras's nut-brown tone, beautiful and slightly nasal, took on many sonic guises, from Spanish guitar to bass clarinet.

Other French offerings were equally well served, including Poulenc's "Suite Française" (1935), a retooling of Renaissance tunes that was "lite" on the music scale but superbly played with jaunty, transparent elegance. Henri Dutilleux's "Three Strophes on the Name Sacher, for Solo Cello" (1976-82) was spare and evocative, and a virtuoso's compendium of special effects, with icy slivers of sound, bouncing bow strokes and left-hand pizzicato. Queyras tossed it off brilliantly, with percussive drum beats and colors ranging from dark cherry to whiteout.          
Washington Post, March 2010

Frick Collection – New York, with Alexandre Tharaud
Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata was a treat, with a singing, shapely cello line, unimpeachable interplay between the instruments and sharp contrasts between the work’s formal and folksy strands, and a singing quality overall. Mr. Queyras produces a warm, dark tone, animated by his flexible, expressive use of vibrato. It is not high-gloss playing of the Yo-Yo Ma variety, but its character, power and color make it hard to resist. The attractions of Mr. Tharaud’s work are similar, with the added draw of a lively interpretive imagination that leads him to recast familiar music in peculiar but usually persuasive ways (…) Debussy’s slow waltz “La Plus Que Lente,” a solo piano work played here in an arrangement for cello and piano, raised the curtain on a driven, sometimes fiery account of the composer’s Cello Sonata. And in Poulenc’s Cello Sonata (Op. 143), Mr. Queyras’s deep, rich hues and Mr. Tharaud’s extroverted pianism yielded a reading in which the composer’s characteristic urbanity was offset by an almost Shostakovichian satirical spirit.
New York Times, March 2010

Manchester Art Gallery – Manchester International festival/Bach Cello Suites
“In the more quick-paced dance movements from the suites, he played with rhapsodic flair, taking the expressive liberties to highilight harmonic twists and asymmetrical phrases in the music, while allowing the lilt of the dances to come through with zest and naturalness. I especially enjoyed the noble, searching way he shaped the phrases of the ruminative movements, like the Sarabande of the First Suite in G.”
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, July 2009

“He conveyed the luminosity of the courtly dance movements with open-hearted ease, was poetically engaging in the preludes and vibrantly alert in the volleys of notes that spun off his modern bow and strings in the brisk courantes and driving gigues.”
Lynne Walker, The Independent, July 2009

“ He is a wonderfully nimble and delicate performer, and in this intimate space every inflection and shadow of his interpretation could be heard clearly. The sound was ideal, utterly clear without sacrificing warmth.”
Paul Gent, The Daily Telegraph. July 2009
Queen Elizabeth Hall - BBC Symphony Orchestra's Doubles premiere
“The solo part of the concerto was taken by the brilliant, effortlessly expressive young cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, a veritable Orpheus in the adagio.”
Paul Driver, The Times, May 2009

The Barbican – BBC Symphony Orchestra
"That thought was cruelly underlined by the piece that followed. It was Haydn’s sublimely compact Cello Concerto in C, played with such elegance, sweet tuning and character by Jean-Guihen Queyras that I wanted an instant replay, preferably in slow motion so I could savour all the mercurial dots that Queyras threaded like diamonds into a glittering necklace."
Richard Morrison, The Times, May 2009

"Which brings me to the third piece, Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C major. This has no aspirations to depth whatever, in fact the outer movements are almost routine. But in the hands of the fabulous cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras they were charming, and the gravely beautiful slow movement was a lot more than that."
Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, May 2009

"The young French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras gave a wonderfully elegant and resilient rendition of Haydn's Cello concerto in C. Bĕlohlávek, who has worked with Queyras in Prague, provided the most sympathetic and aptly agile/crisp accompaniment. Of special distinction in Haydn's 'messa di voce', was the wonderfully affecting cantilena line Queyras achieved in the beautiful adagio. Both soloist and conductor fully observed the allegro molto of the energetic concluding movement. Queyras, as in the rest of the concerto, was fully attentive to the range of melodic material, with those shifts into minor keys most arrestingly realised. My only quibble was with Bĕlohlávek's decision not to adopt antiphonal violins ... really a sine qua non in this repertoire!"
 Geoff Diggines, Music Web International, May 2009

“Earlier, Jean-Guihen Queyras had played Haydn's D major Cello Concerto, a nuanced account, the soloist's cadenzas pertinent and not too extravagant. What impressed most was Haydn's so-inventive music! The finale explores possibilities of contrasts in pitch and dynamics, Queyras bringing out Haydn's experimentation.”
Kevin Rogers, classicalmusicsource, May 2009

Norway – Haydn Concert with the Kristiansand Symfoniorkester
“The evening's high point was, however, Haydn's cello concerto in C major with the French Canadian soloist Jean-Guihen Queyras. His playing was world class, nothing less; supreme virtuosity, an incredible bow technique and a surety of style one seldom hears. One notices when an orchestra not only respects the soloist but also likes him. The quality of the ensemble-playing rose to new heights and was a classic study in communication between soloist, conductor and orchestra. Queyras' encore was further evidence of class: the prelude from Bach's solo suite No.4, more freely interpreted than even the father of all cello virtuosi Pablo Casals would have dared.”
Hans-Christian Yadseth, Fædrelandsvennen, March 2009