Ensemble Contraste (C) Dominique Houcmant-Goldo

Ensemble Contraste


When classical music meets popular music, what happens ?

Contrast ! A delightful contrast ! Whence the name of this ensemble, formed in 2000 and composed of virtuoso classical musicians among the finest of their generation. The diversity and spontaneity of this unusual ensemble, together with the use of their own arrangements, make for original programmes of music ranging from classical to tango, musical comedy, jazz and contemporary compositions.

Following the approach of its directors, Johan Farjot and Arnaud Thorette, Contraste aims to reinvent the classical concert, pushing back the limits, by making the audience central to its approach.

Thus, each programme – from Classical Tango, which has been taken all over the world, to their most recent productions, The Fairy Queen, and Eustache le Moine, due to be presented in summer 2015 – is not a concert, but a show.

Contraste’s productions are regularly acclaimed by the critics, while their recordings reap the highest ratings (Diapason d’Or, Choc Classica, RTL d’Or, Le Diamant d’Opéra, Coup de Cœur de la Fnac, Sélection Mezzo, Radio Classique, France Inter, etc.).

The ensemble has so far appeared in over twenty countries, as well as at major French concert venues. It is currently in residency at Hardelot Castle (Château d’Hardelot, near Boulogne-sur-Mer, in the Pas-de-Calais).

Contraste works with many different artists, including mezzo-soprano Karine Deshayes and composer Karol Beffa on their latest two recordings for Aparté, and Magali Léger, Sandrine Piau, Philippe Jaroussky, Rosemary Standley, Albin de la Simone, Isabelle Georges, Emily Loizeau, the Quatuor Ébène, André Ceccarelli …

2009 saw the launch of the ensemble’s own record label, Contraste Productions, with a CD entitled Songs. With the aim of continuing to push out the limits and share the world of classical music with as wide an audience as possible, Contraste Productions devised Tous en Cœur, an original musical event organised for the benefit of SOS Villages d’Enfants in December 2014 and televised by France 2.

The ensemble is also involved in the artistic programming of the famous Bal Nègre in Paris, which is due to open its doors again in 2016.

Two new recordings, Après un rêve (with Karine Deshayes) and Into the Dark (Karol Beffa), are scheduled for release in 2015 on the Aparté label. Of the ensemble’s many other recordings, let us mention : Café 1930 – Tangos and Fauré’s La Bonne chanson and Piano Quartet (Zig-Zag Territoires), Songs (Contraste/ naïve), Masques (Triton), Koechlin-Onslow (Tympani), Miroir(s) (naïve), Schumann’s Fantasy (Cyprès), Bach Transcriptions (La Dolce Volta) and Midsummer Phantasy (Dux, December 2014).

The ensemble Contraste has been committed to the charity organisation SOS Children’s villages France since 2012.