“Music expresses that which cannot be said
and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
- Victor Hugo
“Music expresses that which cannot be said
“Poetry fused with breathtaking technical perfection” (Concertclassic) and “A master colourist with genius-like ability” (Classical Source) is how the brilliant French pianist Emmanuel Despax was described after his acclaimed recitals at the Louvre auditorium in Paris and Wigmore Hall in London.
Despax is establishing himself as an artist whose interpretations bring a rare sincerity and imagination to the music. He performs internationally and is regularly broadcast on many radio stations including France Musique, BBC Radio 3 and Medici TV. Recent highlights include recitals in Paris, Amsterdam and a performance of three piano concertos at Cadogan Hall. This concert was recorded live and released on the Signum Classics label. "Emmanuel Despax is a formidable talent, fleet of finger, elegant of phrase and a true keyboard colourist." (Gramophone) Despax is also a regular performer at London’s Wigmore Hall.
In his native France he has appeared in prestigious venues such as Paris’ Salle Gaveau, the Louvre auditorium and the Festival International des Nuits Pianistiques in Aix-en-Provence. Elsewhere in Europe he has given recitals at the Fazioli Auditorium in Italy, the Gasteig Blackbox in Munich and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Belgium.
Having studied in the UK at the Yehudi Menuhin School and Royal College of Music with Ruth Nye, one of Claudio Arrau’s finest students, Despax draws inspiration from a long tradition of pure artistry and uncompromising commitment to the score. His passion lies in retaining and regaining the true role of a performer, as a faithful vessel for the composer’s message.
Now based in London, Despax has performed with many UK orchestras including the City of Birmingham Symphony, the London Festival Orchestra in their Virtuoso Pianists Series at Cadogan Hall and Arion Orchestra at St James’s Piccadilly. In addition to his recitals at the Wigmore and Cadogan Halls, he has also performed at the National Portrait Gallery, the Drapers’ Hall, the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham, and the Chipping Campden and Petworth Festivals.
Emmnuel Despax will be returning to the Wigmore Hall in London on 5th January 2017 where his next Chopin album on Signum Classics will be pre-released.
"A master colourist with genius-like ability ... There was some truly magisterial musicianship at work here, his pacing of the long closing dissolve faultless and Liszt’s prodigal pianistic effects seeming to be lit from within. As with all the best Liszt pianists, you got the feeling that Despax was not so much playing the music as directing it, an approach that worked brilliantly in the Ballade, the clarity of his finger work and of his thoroughly prepared overview defining its wild drama with no loss of spontaneity and distinguished by full-blooded, expressive generosity."
Classical Source, Wigmore Hall recital, London
“Poetry fused with breathtaking technical perfection. A soloist with winged virtuosi fingers. This is first and foremost a musician that we had better follow very closely.”
Concert Classic, Louvre Auditorium, Paris
"Emmanuel Despax is a formidable talent, fleet of finger, elegant of phrase and a true keyboard colourist."
Gramophone, Signum concerto album
"This soloist is as comfortable with the spectacular as with the more subtle and introvert passages - all with an impeccable finish. Beautiful playing from a captivating virtuoso.”
Diapason, Signum concerto album
"It's not just that he has a formidable technique, total control over the piano's tonal range and a flawless memory - but he has a penetrating intelligence and an easy charm when it comes to communicating with the audience. Despax played the complete set of Chopin's Preludes: one of the great pillars of romantic piano music, containing some of the composer's most famous melodies. Each was made to seem a miracle of concentration, whether the mood was happy, sad, energetic or relaxed. Throughout the performance there was wonderful clarity to the playing, with each Prelude emerging as a perfectly chiselled masterpiece. The tender sadness of No 4 and the sombre stateliness of No 20 were particularly moving; whereas the brilliance of Preludes such as Nos 16 and 19 was breathtaking, especially when speed had to be matched by an extreme delicacy of touch."
Nottingham Post, Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
"It would be too easy to fall back on clichés like ‘Gallic clarity and elegance’ to describe French pianist Emmanuel Despax’s recital, but those qualities helped make this one of the most impressive contributions to the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall’s Sunday morning piano series in its five-year history. From the rippling figuration of No 3 to the wistfulness of the tiny waltz that is No 7, the most familiar of all the Preludes, to the turbulence of Nos 8 and 14, each piece was vividly characterised, as were changes of mood within pieces, such as the tenth Prelude’s shift from filigree opening to darker central section. In the introspective No 6 the evenness of Despax’s repeated notes was notable, as it was in No 15, the misleadingly nicknamed ‘Raindrop’ Prelude – misleading because it surely misses the point. Despax rightly re-focused our attention on the operatic lyricism of Chopin’s melodic writing. Prelude No 20 is that paradoxical thing, a monumental miniature, and Despax succeeded in capturing its grandeur without misjudging its scale. In the final Prelude, No 24, there is lot happening in the lower octaves, but it never sounded muddy, and the three final tolling Ds way down in the depths rang out with a kind of burnished sombre radiance." Sound and Vision, Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
"Hailed as a rising star, French-born Emmanuel Despax excelled, living up to the accolades of rapturous superlatives that audiences and reviewers around the world have showered upon him. From the initial fierce descending attack by the piano in the first movement Despax breathed new life into this popular work. His flawless technique, sense of precision in working with the orchestra and his ability to project an unassuming strength of emotion created a spellbinding performance."
THE PRESS, Schumann concerto, CSO Masterworks Series, New Zealand
"In Liszt's Second Ballade Despax produced passages of intense beauty, helping transcend the work before menace and tempestuous howling devour the plaintive opening. Here was an outstanding performance by a young musician of great potential"
Musical Opinion, Cadogan Hall, London
Après une lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata
Recorded live for "A Fly On The Wall"
Chorale Prelude "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein"
Salle Gaveau, Paris
Chaconne in D minor
Salle Gaveau, Paris
Pictures at an Exhibition
Salle Gaveau, Paris
Saint-Saëns / Goss / Franck
Signum Classics SIGCD349
Orpheus Sinfonia / Thomas Carroll
For his debut concerto album, Emmanuel Despax recorded 3 concertos live in one concert at the Cadogan Hall in London. This concerto disc, with the Orpheus Sinfonia under Thomas Carroll, features two pillars of the romantic piano repertoire, Saint-Saëns’ ever-popular Piano Concerto No.2 and Franck’s Variations symphoniques. These works are accompanied by the premiere recording of Stephen Goss's Piano Concerto, inspired by the designs of Thomas Heatherwick.
"Emmanuel Despax is a formidable talent, fleet of finger, elegant of phrase and a true keyboard colourist." Gramophone
Bach-Busoni / Busoni / Mussorgsky
Live at the Salle Gaveau
This disc was recorded during Emmanuel Despax's first appearance at the Salle Gaveau in Paris. The programme includes Bach-Busoni Chaconne in D minor, Busoni Carmen Fantasy and Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition.
Extracts from this recital can be watched on the VIDEO page.
Ravel / Debussy / Schumann
Live at Wigmore Hall
For this 2nd recording, Emmanuel Despax returns to the Wigmore Hall following his acclaimed debut in a colossal programme including Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit and Schumann's Etudes Symphoniques.
Bach-Busoni / Beethoven / Haydn / Liszt
Jaques Samuel Recordings
This Wigmore Hall recital was awarded to Emmanuel Despax as winner of the Jaques Samuel Pianos Intercollegiate Piano Competition. For this recording, Emmanuel plays a programme mixing the classical with the romantic, which includes two masterworks of the piano repertoire; the soul searching Beethoven Sonata Op. 110, and the monumental Liszt Sonata in B minor.
"This disc is about Despax - he impresses - and he is all about the music"
International Record Review