Since 1987 Le Concert Spirituel has become one of the leading exponents across the world in the performance of baroque music on period instruments – notably of French repertoire, but also of Italian, English and other masters. In this spirit, Le Concert Spirituel is associated closely with the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles and is devoted to airing the works of the great composers of French musical heritage, from Charpentier to Lully, by way of Campra or Boismortier.
With its founding director, Hervé Niquet, Le Concert Spirituel has distinguished itself in leading concert halls in many different countries, among which can be numbered its yearly visits to the Salle Pleyel and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris and to the Château de Versailles. Le Concert Spirituel has also performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, London’s Barbican Centre and Royal Albert Hall (for the BBC Proms), Luxemburg Philharmonie, Tokyo Opera, BOZAR in Brussels, Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, Shanghai Concert Hall and Theater an der Wien.
Le Concert Spirituel is a notable contributor to the continuing revival of the French operatic tradition from the Baroque era onwards, especially through its Glossa recordings: Boismortier’s Daphnis et Chloé, Destouches’ Callirhoé, Marais’ Sémélé and Grétry’s Andromaque are good examples of this revival. In parallel to performing these operas Le Concert Spirituel has been exploring both the sacred repertoire of the French early Baroque, especially that of Marc-Antoine Charpentier, and compositions written in connection with the French Prix de Rome competition by such composers as Saint-Saëns, Debussy and Gustave Charpentier.
These musical adventures are also the opportunity to work with directors and choreographers as diverse as Gilles and Corinne Benizio (alias Shirley & Dino), Karol Armitage, Georges Lavaudant, and Joachim Schloemer, as well as realizing spectacular projects such as Striggio’s Mass for 40 and 60 voices and Handel’s Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks.
Le Concert Spirituel is funded by the French Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication and by the City of Paris, receiving support also from Air France, the Fondation BNP Paribas and the Fondation Bru.
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After training as a harpsichordist, organist, pianist, singer, composer, choirmaster and conductor, Hervé Niquet founded Le Concert Spirituel in 1987 with the goal of reviving the French grand motet. With his ensemble he has been exploring rare Baroque works, favouring the French musical tradition to which he devotes much of his energy. Previously, as the vocal director (chef de chant) at the Paris Opéra he had the opportunity of working with Rudolf Nureyev and Serge Lifar (who had collaborated directly with the ballet composers), instilling in him the need to reconsider the meaning of original interpretation and the recognition of the importance of an oral tradition.
Niquet applies the same level of curiosity and willingness to reread repertoire from the original sources (in order to avoid convention and habit) as one of today’s most fervent defenders of French repertory – from the Baroque era to the beginning of the 20th century. He performs as a guest conductor with prestigious orchestras such as the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Sinfonia Varsovia, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, RIAS Kammerchor, Orchestre de Picardie, Orchestre Nationale de Montpellier and the Kammerorchester Basel.
Involving himself also in pedagogical projects for young musicians, numerous master-classes and lectures, he is able to pass on his work on interpretation, period conventions and the latest musicological discoveries as well as the truth about the demanding profession of being a musician. He is also frequently led to work with directors like Georges Lavaudant, Gilles and Corinne Benizio (Shirley & Dino), Mariame Clément or Christoph Marthaler. He has still found time to record the occasional solo keyboard CD, such as discs devoted to the music of François d’Agincour.
Niquet’s pioneering rediscoveries of works from the 19th century led him to help create the Palazzetto Bru Zane – Centre de Musique Romantique Française in Venice in 2009, with which he engages in many different projects, including tragédies lyriques and music written in connection with the French Prix de Rome competition. Hervé Niquet also shares a special relationship with the Flemish Radio Choir, as its musical director, and with the Brussels Philharmonic, as first guest conductor, both functions carried out since the autumn of 2011.
Hervé Niquet has been decorated by the French State with the honour of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite and Officier des Arts et Lettres.
Over the last 25 years Hervé Niquet has emerged as one of the most ebullient defenders and inspired interpreters of French music from the Baroque to the early 20th century, and never one to be shy of approaching composers and music disdained by others. With Le Concert Spirituel – which he founded in 1987 – there has been a constant stream of performances and recordings devoted to the music of the likes of Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Joseph Bodin de Boismortier and Pierre Bouteiller (and of Baroque composers from other countries besides), whilst Niquet’s musical vision has also encompassed unjustly neglected operatic compositions in the tragédie lyrique genre. Charles-Simon Catel’s Sémiramis – first performed in 1802 – is one of those neglected tragédies lyriques, now recorded and released, and Glossa is also issuing a two-disc survey celebrating a quarter century of music-making from Le Concert Spirituel, covering enticing selections of choral, orchestral and dramatic works, as well as some personally-chosen instrumental bonbons (which include Hervé Niquet as harpsichordist). [read more...]
It is not only discerning music lovers around the globe who are giving a warm welcome to the recordings which are being published on Glossa; critical approval in the specialist media has been joining in as well. One example of the latter is the newly-instigated International Classical Music Awards (ICMA) which, for its inaugural 2011 edition, has chosen no less than nine of Glossa’s recent releases in its initial nominations. [read more...]
Hervé Niquet is far less interested in being known as a Baroque music specialist than for his passionate interest in all of French music, especially its vocal and lyrical compositions and nowadays he is as liable to be found directing a symphony orchestra as his own period instrument ensemble Le Concert Spirituel. It may come, for some, as a surprise to find Niquet teaming up with the Brussels Philharmonic to record Debussy but this future release will mark the inauguration of a new adventure for Niquet and Glossa focusing on the music associated with the Prix de Rome competition which drew in scores of leading French composers all the way from 1803 through 1968. [read more...]
For its first DVD release Glossa has chosen a veritable spectacular, combining the strong creative ideas represented by one of its established artistic teams in Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel, the fabulously funny and hugely-successful French comedy duo of Shirley and Dino (Corinne and Gilles Benizio in real life), a film director in Olivier Simonnet with proven experience in the music of the Baroque and a masterpiece of a dramatick operatic score in Henry Purcell’s King Arthur. [read more...]
Taking a leading role in the revival of tragédies lyriques (or tragédies en musique), the best of the French Baroque opera tradition, is a long, daunting (and expensive) challenge but one which Hervé Niquet has been keen to accept. Present as a singer in the chorus of Les Arts Florissants in 1987 when William Christie put on Lully’s Atys, Niquet formed his own ensemble, Le Concert Spirituel that same year. Since that time he has balanced his own endeavours to stage (and record) key French tragédies with his other musical interests, which extend from Monteverdi to Purcell and Handel (soon to be reissued – now on SACD – is Niquet’s recording of the Fireworks and Water Music suites) right the way through to later composers such as Schumann, Gounod and d’Indy.[read more...]