Founded in 2010 by Nicolas Penel (violin), Laurent Galliano (viola) and Mathieu Rouquié (cello), the Ensemble Fratres works in collaboration with the luthier and bow maker Luc Breton, whose experience and knowledge forged its sound homogeneity and artistic taste.
After over 300 concerts, the Ensemble Fratres presents an engaging music. It performs at the Flandres Festival (Bruges, Maasmechelen, Anvers), AMUZ festival (the complete quintets of Boccherini for two cellos, Antwerp - 2010), Printemps des Arts (Nantes), Spiritual Concert Foundation (Warsaw - Poland), RadialSystem V (Berlin), Thüringer Bachwochen (Erfurt), Händel Festspiele (the program combines early music and electroacoustic music, Halle - 2011).
And with renowned musicians, such as Marie-Claude Chappuis, Maria Espada, Nicolau De Figueiredo, Vittorio Ghielmi, Margret Köll, Barthold Kuijken, Roberta Mameli, Carlos Mena, Dorothee Oberlinger, Luca Pianca, Arianna Savall and the Ensemble Zefiro.
Chosen as a residency artist of the Amarcordes musical season (Geneva, Switzerland), Ensemble Fratres holds numerous concerts between 2010 and 2014, especially with the project Bach Filiation (performance of the entire works of J.S. Bach). With the lutenist Luca Pianca, Fratres performed in 2017 Claudio Monteverdi’s « Combattimento di Tancredi » for the LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura of Lugano (Switzerland); and in 2018, the Ensemble participated in the re-creation of Baltic works of the twentieth century (A. Pärt, E. Esenvalds, P. Vasks) for string orchestra, and on period instruments, conducted by Swiss Radio Television’s director Pascal Crittin.
The Fratres musicians share an ardent passion for music pronunciation, on any instrument, thanks to a true coloured vocabulary (vowels) and attacks (consonants). "Hissing, whistling, scratching, glissandi and other temperamental games, invite themselves into their performance, thanks to appropriate techniques and special instruments, made to speak in this way. With this musical language, nourished by diversity and contrast, breath-taking, unpredictable and welcoming, we discover a swing, a harmonic and rhythmic life, little in today’s classical music style: a proposal that surprises and must surprise." Francesco Biamonte, RTS.
The Fratres Ensemble is available in variable formations, ranging from trio to the pre-romantic orchestra. In its repertoire, baroque works, and also performance of classical and romantic works, both in chamber music and in orchestral layout : Pergolese (Stabat Mater), Purcell (Didon & Énée, Abdelazer, Suite, Fantaisies), Telemann (Suites), Bach (Concerti, Mass in B, St-Matthieu and St-Jean Passion, Christmas Oratorios), Vivaldi (Concerti, Stabat Mater, the four seasons), Haendel (Messiah), Haydn (trios and string quartets, The Creation), Boccherini (quintets, Stabat Mater), Mozart (trio Divertimento, quintets, Requiem, Coronation Mass), Schubert (quartet, quintet, octet, Mass in Eb), Brahms (sextet), as well as Schostakovich (quartet) and Jean Cras (string trio).
In 2013, Hanspeter Oggier (Panflute) invites the Ensemble Fratres for his project to record a CD devoted to the flute concerti (Vivaldi and G.P. Telemann). This record is published under the Brilliant Classics label in two volumes (2015 and 2016). The Ensemble Fratres then record a chamber music album in 2014, dedicated to W. A. Mozart’s two violas string quintets with a release date planned for april 2020.
A new recording is made in 2018 with the organist and choirmaster Daniel Meylan for the Hortus House, about the Lutheran Vespers. The Ensemble Fratres won the First Prize at the Chamber Music Competition of the Friends and Former Students Association of the Geneva High School of Music(2005) and holds a diploma of the Geneva High School of Music (string quartet’s class of Gabor Takacs-Nagy, 2006). It won the First Prize in the Musica Antiqua Chamber Music Competition in Bruges (2006) and an Honorary Diploma at the International Chamber Music Competition "Joseph Joachim" in Weimar (2005).
VIOLAS AND ITS CONFIDENCES
Quintets with Two Violas
The two violas quintets were born in the early 1760s in Austria. This formation will find great minds to amuse themselves: Pleyel, Boccherini, Albrechtsberger, Hoffmeister, Zimmermann, Beethoven. But it’s with Boccherini (who devoted it over a hundred works) and mostly with Michael Haydn that it will launch beautifully (with its Notturni from 1773). Admirable and prophetic pages that will inspire young Mozart his first quintet with two violas.
Mozart precisely, who, having made the viola his favorite instrument, will find, excelling in the composition for this new formation, an elegant way of honoring his Master Joseph Haydn (king of the string quartet). He will repeat it six times.
The Ensemble Fratres offers two of the most important pieces in the Mozartian repertoire, cited as essential in chamber music literature, even if they are much less well known than its quartets. This is also one of the reasons that led to the recording of an album, published in May 2020 by Hortus Editions.
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Entrusting the Vivaldi concertos for solo voice to the panpipes may seem, at first glance, an unusual approach; at first glance only.
Indeed, it is fully justified from a historical point of view, because the panflute - generic name given to any flute composed of a beveled pipe assembly - precisely finds a part of its European origins in the seventeenth century, particularly under the shape of the Romanian Nai; Although the flute of Pan was originally intended for popular music, its use in the performance of Baroque "scholar" repertoire is none the less legitimate and happy.
Far from distorting the work of Vivaldi, the panflute gives it the bright and warm colouring that corresponds to this masterpiece.
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BOCCHERINI IN SPAIN? THE GUITAR!
Quintets with guitar by Luigi Boccherini
« If God wanted to speak to men through music he would do it with Haydn's works; yet if he wanted to listen to music himself, he would decide for Boccherini.»
Jean-Baptiste Cartier (1798)
It is for the Marquis de Benavente, a wealthy amateur and protector, that Boccherini arranges some of his quintets, between 1798 and 1799, for string quartet and guitar. Discovering the popular Spanish music, probably since his arrival in Madrid in 1768, he will adorn his work with many references to the rhythms of dance (fandango, séguédille) or local musical modes (Andalusian ranges). The resources of the guitar, so familiar to Boccherini, are naturally presented in the spotlight of his chamber music.
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The Art of The Difference
With this program, Fratres returns to its basics: the string quartet and the interpretation of music from various eras.
Thanks to an art of interpretation that he has sharpened over the years, the ensemble makes Bach swing, gives Haydn all its nobility and highlights the apparently still serene character of a young Shostakovich.
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Exchanges with the West
Today, for an auditor, the score and its notes are the landscape of music. Whereasthe musician sees his page of music revealed between his dream and his ears.
Formerly, the herdsman, with his reed or his elder pipe, cut when it was in sap, unfolded his sounds only by the vision of the landscape ... So much so that his “melopée” was word of gratitude for the surrounding beauty.
It was a jubilee of the five senses. The Orient is not only Turkey but also the Balkans, Greece, Romania, mysterious regions of transition and bathed in antiquity. The Duduk, the Armenian instrument, reminds us today that the Orient is only a continuous discourse, a meditation on nature. Orientalism is a memory of this happy old age..
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A EUROPEAN GETAWAY
String Trio and Panflute
Entrusting the soprano part to the panflute in a string quartet can seem far-fetched. Although this sonority does not seem to be obviously related to western music, the Panflute does have certain origins deeply rooted in Europe since ancient Greece.
Hence the legitimate challenge of inviting it to scholarly music, playing with the composers’ traditional freedom of the time, to assume unprecedented and breath-taking performances of great scores.With its felted tone, though intense, it comes, at the edge of the mouthpieces, to marry the shimmering murmurs of the gut-rubbed ropes.
With this bright and colourful idea, Ensemble Fratres and Hanspeter Oggier (Panflute) continue their musical journey initiated with the album 'Vivaldi Concerti' (Brilliant Classics, 2015).
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A FREE SPIRIT
A string trio concert perfectly represents the Ensemble Fratres’s musical values.Freedom and equality first: in compositions that embellish the three instruments, all the musicians can express themselves freely.
The dialogue between the violin, the viola and the cello is even more exciting.
Then, eclecticism and curiosity, because if Mozart and Beethoven are familiar to us, Dohnányi and Cras are composers who deserve to be (re) discovered or as no man is a prophet in his country, it is rare to hear in concert the music of the Swiss composer Volkmar Andreae Program to compose with the choice of following works.
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THE FINEST OF THE CELLO
Quintets with two Cellos
The cello and its characteristic finery: its warm and ample tone evoking the human voice and its intriguing, light and whimsical sounds...
We owe them without hesitation to Luigi Boccherini! A genius of the bow and writing! No wonder, like Mozart with his quintets with two violas, that we owe him this new formation (quintet with two cellos) and for which he wrote nearly one hundred and thirteen works.
The opportunity to wander, widely, in his magic evocations of birdsongs (Uccelliera), hunting parties where the call of the chirps to the hunting horn sound far away (I pastori e il cacciatori), or even those cracklings of wood fires, of these unimaginable and arid heat of the Iberian folklore... to the exalted features of the new and dapper German "Sturm und Drang".
From here to knock on the door of Franz Schubert and his quintet with two cellos in C major D956, there is only one step!
All the inventiveness, the freshness and the inspiration of a sparkling musician are revealed in these masterpieces, which the Ensemble Fratres likes to live and discover with great appetite. Program to be defined among the following works.
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A reunion of three great Stabat Mater in one single concert. The liturgical text of the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, written in the 13th century by the Franciscan monk Jacopone Da Todi, hasinspired many composers.
Ensemble Fratres proposes in the same program, a reconciliation of three perfectly complementary Stabat Mater, and representative of three distinct periods of writing. It has the privilege of offering this program with Maria Espada, soprano and Carlos Mena, countertenor.
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OSPEDALE DELLA PIETÀ
Vespers for the Nativity of the Virgin
The Polhymnia female vocal ensemble and the Ensemble Fratres immerse you in the intimate and collected atmosphere of Venice's Ospedale della Pietà by offering a program devoted exclusively to women's voices in Vivaldi's work.
The mission of the Venice’s Ospedale della Pietà was to help abandoned girls by providing them with a general education and a high-level musical education. By the ages of 10, some of them were selected by the governor and chapel master to be part of the Ospedale choir as singers or musicians.
This institution enjoyed a great reputation in Europe and frequently received renowned visitors. Pope Pius IV, J.-J. Rousseau or the famous Charles Burney came in person to listen to the young girls play and sing. And they all were transported by the quality of the show.
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