|NICOLAS ACHTEN & SCHERZI MUSICALI
bariton, theorbo, harpsichord, harp & artistic direction
|© Jesse Willems|
In about 10 years, Scherzi Musicali has become one of the brightest stars in the early music cosmos, and is renowned for its dynamic interpretations of seventeenth and eighteenth century repertoire which its musicians explore with insatiable appetite and zeal. Whether uncovering lost gems of a forgotten musical heritage or revisiting staples of the baroque repertoire, the musicians of Scherzi Musicali apply the same exacting approach to all of the works they interpret, using philological research and reflection to guide them in their never-ending quest for the most accurate and historical performance style.
With anywhere from three to over twenty musicians, the ensemble was founded and is directed by Nicolas Achten (b. 1985), one of the few modern classical singers to accompany himself, variously, on the lute, the harp, and the harpsichord, reviving this forgotten practice. He collaborates with singers and instrumentalists with whom he has developed a sonic identity built on the interaction of continuo instruments and vocal rhetoric.
Scherzi Musicali has performed in many of Europe’s finest festivals and concert halls, including the Festival de Wallonie, Festival van Vlaanderen, deBijloke, deSingel, Concertgebouw Brugge, Amuz, Bozar, Automne Musical de Spa, Operadagen Rotterdam, Ferrara Musica, Amici Della Musica di Padova, the Venetian Festival of Baroque Music, Tage Alter Muzik Herne, Musikfestspiele Potsdam, Muzikverein Wien, Kölner Philharmonie, Itinéraire Baroque en Périgord Vert, Festival d’Ambronay, etc.
Committed to its pedagogical role, Scherzi Musicali collaborates with "Jeunesses Musicales" and "Jeugd en Muziek", to put scholarly understanding of early music at the heart of educational establishments.
Scherzi Musicali has recorded seven CDs, including five world premières: Giulio Caccini (2008), “Dulcis Amor Iesu” — motets by Giovanni Felice Sances (2009), “Petits Motets” — Joseph Hector Fiocco (2009), “La Catena d’Adone” — Domenico Mazzocchi (2010), "How pleasant 'tis to Love" — songs by Henry Purcell (2012) and “Il Pianto d’Orfeo” — Monteverdi, Caccini, Peri… (2013). In 2016, they released a recording of Antonio Bertali’s oratorio “La Maddalena”, whereas a second volume of Fiocco motets is set to appear in late 2016. These recordings have been edited by a number of different labels, including Alpha, Musique en Wallonie, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi/Sony, and Ricercar, which is now the ensemble’s exclusive recording partner.
Born in Brussels in 1985, Nicolas Achten studied singing, lute, harpsichord and triple harp at the Royal Conservatories of Brussels and The Hague, and completed his training at various masterclasses, including the Académie baroque d’Ambronay and the Centre de la Voix de Royaumont.
Since 2004, Nicolas has performed with some of Europe’s most prestigious early music ensembles including l’Arpeggiata, La Fenice, La Petite Bande, Ausonia, Les Agrémens, Akadêmia, Les Talens Lyriques, il Fondamento, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Il Seminario Musicale, Le Poème Harmonique, and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, and for conductors such as Jean Tubéry, Sigiswald Kuijken, Marc Minkowski, Christophe Rousset and René Jacobs.
He is one of the few classical singers to accompany himself on various instruments, reviving this historical tradition. With the intention of furthering this practice and research, he founded the ensemble Scherzi Musicali, whose concerts and recordings have received unanimous praise from the public and the international press. The ensemble’s performances and recordings have been awarded the highest accolades, including the Diapason d’or découverte, Crescendo magazine’s Joker, La clé (ResMusica), Prelude Classics Award, 4-stars (Monde de la musique), Muse d'Or, Golden Ring (Classic Info), and received the International Record Review's "Outstanding" award.
Nicolas Achten teaches singing, lute and historical performance practice at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. He is a regular guest professor at several European institutions (University of East Anglia, Operastudio Vlaanderen, the Yorke Trust (Norfolk), Conservatorio Milano), and he is musical director for Muziektheater Transparant’s summer courses.