“Antoine Tamestit, the eloquent and virtuosic soloist”
The Telegraph, January 2012
Antoine Tamestit has achieved that rare thing as a violist of playing at the highest level with orchestra and being constantly in demand as a chamber musician and recitalist. He was born in Paris and following his studies there, he went on to study with Jesse Levine at Yale Universtiy and with Tabea Zimmermann. Antoine Tamestit was the recipient of several coveted prizes which launched his career and gave him exposure in the US and in Europe - the William Primrose Competition and the first prize at the Young Concert Artists (YCA) International Auditions, BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists Scheme, Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award and the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award in 2009.
Tamestit’s repertoire ranges from the Baroque period to the contemporary, and he has performed and recorded many world premieres. He played George Benjamin’s Viola, Viola with Tabea Zimmermann at the Feldkirch Festival before recording it in 2003 for Nimbus Records, and premiered the Concerto for two violas by Bruno Mantovani written for Tabea Zimmermann and himself with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and the WDR Cologne. In 2009, the Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth wrote a concerto for Tamestit which he premiered in Vienna, Berlin, and Tokyo.
As soloist, Antoine Tamestit has worked twice with the Vienna PO and with the London Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin, Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchestra, Berlin, Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, RSO Stuttgart, with major French orchestras including the Orchestre de Paris and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and with the several BBC symphony orchestras. He has also played in the opening concerts of the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York together with Louis Langrée and Christian Tetzlaff.
Chamber music is an important element of Antoine Tamestit's work and life. He appeared at the 2012 Verbier Festival in chamber music with Leonidas Kavakos, Gautier Capucon and others and at the Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals as part of the string trio with Frank-Peter Zimmermann and Christian Poltera. He is a regular guest in both chamber music and recital in major halls across the world - the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Vienna Musikverein, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall in London, Megaron in Athens, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Konserthus in Stockholm and the Cité de la Musique de Paris. In November 2006 he performed at New York’s Lincoln Center – the first time the Center has programmed a viola recital.
Antoine Tamestit has a distinguished discography - a solo recording of Bach and Ligeti released in 2007 by Naïve/Ambroisie, Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante with Renaud Capuçon, Louis Langrée and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for Virgin Classics; Schnittke Concerto with Warsaw Philharmonic and Kitajenko for Naïve/Ambroisie and Schubert’s Trout Quintet with Christian Tetzlaff, Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, Alois Posch and Martin Helmchen for Pentatone. Most recently, he has released an all-Schubert recording with soprano Sandrine Piau (Naïve), and the complete Faure Piano Quartets with the Trio Wanderer (Harmonia Mundi), as well as Berlioz Harold in Italy with Marc Minkowski and Les Musicians du Louvre (Naïve).
Antoine Tamestit recently recorded a new CD of Bach’s Suites with Naïve Records, released in November 2012.
Antoine Tamestit is professor at the Cologne Musikhochschule. He plays on a viola made by Stradivarius in 1672, loaned by the Habisreutinger Foundation.
Antoine Tamestit is represented by Intermusica.
2012-13 season / 550 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Robin Ticciati / Berlioz Harold en Italie
“Star of the show was viola player Antoine Tamestit. An impeccable soloist in Harold in Italy by Berlioz, he projected its lyricism injecting just the right sort of colour to tell a highly effective story of Berlioz’s Italian journey.”
The Scotsman, April 2013
Edinburgh Festival with Frank Peter Zimmermann and Christian Poltéra / Schubert, Schoenberg & Mozart
“It would be hard to imagine the [Schoenberg] being better done or to find its emotional world explored with more remorseless exactitude. Turning from it to Mozart was almost a relief. Operatic in its range and scope, the Divertimento is a spacious, beguiling work that combines beauty and logic in ways that are breathtaking. As with so many string trios, however, it gives the performers nowhere to hide, and the slightest slip can be perilous. The Zimmermanns played it as if it were the easiest thing in the world.”
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, August 2012
Ojai Festival with Leif Ove Andsnes and Martin Fröst / Mozart & Kurtag
“Mr. Frost, Mr. Andsnes and the violist Antoine Tamestit played an elegant and articulate performance of Mozart’s “Kegelstatt” Trio in E flat (K. 498). A Mozart trio? It somehow made sense. The same three players shifted directly from the Mozart to Gyorgy Kurtag’s elusive, restless and epigrammatic “Hommage à Robert Schumann,” composed in 1990, to end the program.”
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, June 2012
“That was followed by another perfect match: a joyous run of Mozart's Trio with Andsnes at the piano, Fröst on clarinet and Antoine Tamestit on viola. The same three musicians soared once more, with Kurtag's "Hommage."”
Rita Moran, Ventura County Star, June 2012
Montreal Recital with Markus Hadulla / Brahms, Shostakovich & Schumann
“Star violists are rare sightings... They got a full helping of beautiful sound and a fair quota of musical insight, the latter most apparent in the second half of the program, comprising Shostakovich's 33-minute Viola Sonata of 1975. Summoning a range of sonorities, including some mesmerizingly clear long tones in the middle Allegretto movement, Tamestit made a compelling case for the composer's late-life ruminations, oddly hopeful despite their apparent bleakness.”
Arthur Kaptainis, The Montreal Gazette, February 2012
London Symphony Orchestra with Antoino Pappano / Walton Viola Concerto
“As the centrepiece of the evening, Walton’s Viola Concerto provided a welcome oasis of balm... Many viola-players use the concerto to explore the darkest colours of their instrument, but Antoine Tamestit remained cool and elegant throughout, trusting to its emotional ambivalence – a refreshing change.”
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, January 2012
“A few bars into the sultry opening theme and from the beauty of his dark, grainy tone and innately pliant phrasing it was plain that Antoine Tamestit was a violist through and through, not a violinist given to moonlighting on the viola. There was something wonderfully organic about this performance, an understanding of its sound world as complete as that of the composer for his chosen instrument. How skilfully Walton exploits the androgynous character of the viola, at once darkly enigmatic (shades of Ades’ Duchess) and gruffly extrovert. Tamestit encompassed it all – the dusky, almost Hollywood, exoticism and the trenchantly motoric.”
Edward Seckerson, The Independent, January 2012
“Walton’s Viola Concerto is an early work, dating from long before he settled on Ischia, but there is already Italianate warmth in the melancholic mix, so superbly summoned up by Pappano and Antoine Tamestit, the eloquent and virtuosic soloist.”
John Allison, The Telegraph, January 2012
“Antoine Tamestit established himself from his opening solo, intimately yearning, and producing a true viola sound. His instrument also buzzed with energy and lithe rhythms, an outgoing rendition alive to volatility that didn’t sacrifice confidentiality... Tamestit was a master of the solo part”
Colin Anderson, Classical Source, January 2012
“...passages of acerbic wit balance against a subdued sorrowfulness that eventually sweeps all else aside. His sound full, his touch light, soloist Antoine Tamestit revelled in his instrument's mellow fruitiness but there were also moments of gently explosive exuberance. Briefly he found his match in Rachel Gough's wonderfully sinuous bassoon solo to open the finale but this was Tamestit's show.”
Nick Kimberley, London Evening Standard, January 2012
Mostly Mozart Festival with Louis Langrée and Christian Tetzlaff / Mozart Sinfonia Concertante K.364
“The only newcomer turned out to be the French violist Antoine Tamestit, who made a bright debut playing a darkly splendorous Stradivarius...
Tetzlaff’s exceptionally brilliant violin found an appreciative counterforce in Tamestit’s exceptionally mellow viola. Their dialogues evolved in eloquent poise and, it seemed, mutual admiration.”
Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times, August 2011
“The dynamic French violist Antoine Tamestit, in his festival debut...
Here, though elegantly true to the Mozart style, they subtly conveyed what was daring and modern in this music. The opening Allegro is marked “maestoso,” which translates as majestic, dignified. But to this solo duo, and to Mr. Langrée, majestic clearly meant very energetic.
Mr. Tetzlaff and Mr. Tamestit brought restless vitality to the movement, with its profusion of themes and somewhat competitive solo flights...
Between this movement and the finale, a jaunty Presto, comes a slow movement of tragic expressivity. Here the tempo was a true walking Andante that never allowed the music to wallow in emotion. The soloists’ approach brought out the poignant elegance of the movement and made it seem more a part of the overall conception: more a part of life, in a way, where happy and sad states simply coexist.”
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, August 2011
Dortmund Recital with Julius Drake / Britten Reflections on Dowland’s Lachrymae
“Certainly one of the finest viola players of his generation... showing just how well the viola could sing...
The Frenchman is an elegant performer, phrasing the music delicately, making the melodies sing on his instrument, and shaping the rhythms carefully. It would be difficult to play these Britten pieces with any more refinement and sensuousness.”
Ruhr Nachrichten, June 2011
“Antoine Tamestit and Julius Drake were the ideal artists for Benjamin Britten’s ‘Lachrymae’ for viola and piano, giving a coherent and vivid performance...
Musically, they achieved the perfect balance between intellectual modernity and the quiet emotionality of Britten’s musical model”
Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, June 2011
Olga Neuwirth Remnants of Song ... An Amphigory / Viola concerto co-commissioned by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust
"Spectacular work... a noisy tangle of tweed and punk, solidly worked, but with surprising threads and colours."
Christiane Tewinkel, Tagesspiegel, February 2010
"The work is entirely original, astoundingly complex and, ultimately, gloriously rewarding and uplifting."
Larry L. Lash, MusicalAmerica.com, December 2009
"Antoine Tamestit played it with virtuosity and a heartwarming tone"
Salzburger Nachrichtung, October 2009
Bach Suites (Naïve)
“He plays a rare Stradivarius viola — nicknamed the “Mahler” — of 1672, whose haunting sound, both warm and bright, will be a joy to Bachians and viola fans alike. Let’s hope the even-number suites follow.”
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, March 2013
“The first thing with which Antione Tamestit’s sound strikes, is its brightness. Not dazzling and sunny, but rather a kind of moonlight. His Viola is never tempted to imitate the cello, for which these Suites by Johann-Sebastian Bach were originally composed. Even better, we manage to forget the original. Refinement, poetry, elegance and commitment all characterise the swift playing of the young French violist (born in 1979) who plays with a Stradivarius – the “Mahler” of 1672 – he offers a very personal (and masterful) rendition of these oft-repeated dances. We can now look forward to the remaining suites.!”
Le Monde, December 2012
Berlioz Harold in Italy with Marc Minkowski and Les Musicians du Louvre (Naïve)
"Berlioz's atmospheric symphony/concerto Harold en Italie clearly energizes Antoine Tamestit, a dynamic young violist who shows a commanding "voice" and considerable virtuosity."
Opera News, May 2012
“Acclaimed violist, Antoine Tamestit, delivers a compelling, deeply felt performance with a delicious viola sound throughout. [...] This disc is a treasure.”
The Wholenote, March 2012
“These Berlioz performances capitalise on the clarity of texture and tonality that the “period” instruments of Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble can so effectively conjure up...
The particular qualities of Berlioz’s orchestration make “Harold en Italie” a good choice. There is no sacrificing of the music’s Byronic aura, which is strengthened by the rich, burgundy timbre of Antoine Tamestit’s solo viola and the mellifluous lyricism and vitality of his playing.
Marc Minkowski conducts a strong account of Harold, with the eloquent phrasing of viola soloist Antoine Tamestit”
The Telegraph, CD of the week, November/December 2011
“...the colours and rhythms of Harold spring out at you, and the viola soloist, Antoine Tamestit, is exceptionally good.”
The Sunday Times, November 2011
“[Antoine Tamestit] taking advantage of a lighter orchestral sound to project his beautifully nuanced solo lines. As a result, the performance at times acquires the quality of chamber music...it is a welcome change from accounts in which the viola struggles to hold its own against the great orchestral machine.”
The Guardian, November 2011
Schubert Recording with Sandrine Piau (Naïve)
"Such bold invention is the result of a lifelong immersion in music... I admire Tamestit´s ability to bring forth a whole rainbow of colours even on one held note."
Carlos Maria Solare, The Strad
"A wonderful, absolutely striking CD showing Tamestit´s outstanding performance in an unprecedented way."
Carsten Dürer, Ensemble
"The French musician and dedicated violist... awakens the viola’s voice and makes it rise to unexpected tonalities and colours."
Reinmar Wagner, Musik und Theater
Antoine Tamestit, Christian Tetzlaff , Martin Helmchen, Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, Alois Posch / Schubert Trout Quintet (Pentatone)
"This is a marvellous disc, one of the most enjoyable I have heard in a long time... a great line-up of soloists, who seem to know one another very well, or to have clicked miraculously, with results that, in the case of the 'Trout' Quintet, are more completely satisfactory than any account I have ever heard of this work."
BBC Music Magazine, July 2009
Bach & Ligeti Chaconne (Ambroisie records)
"Tamestit's lively, historically informed manner extends through the earlier movements of the Partita, the rhythmic character of each dance emerging with great clarity. The performance of the Ligeti – a magnificent, enthralling piece that's already emerged as a peak of the viola repertoire - is extraordinarily clean and accurate."
Duncan Druce, Gramophone, August 2007