Taking new paths, breaking away from labels, seeing music as an exchange – from the day it was founded, it is the ambition of the Des Équilibres Ensemble to engage their audience in a true conversation. Initially founded in 2006 by violinist Agnès Pyka, the ensemble is a gathering of musicians with different backgrounds. Despite their differences, the musicians are united by a common desire to create a dialogue between aesthetics and various art forms. Des Équilibres has always followed its calling as pioneer, blazing a trail through virgin territory, yet without abandoning tradition. The ensemble tackles every aspect of chamber music, from the classical era to contemporary pieces, but is especially passionate about rare and unique and even unreleased works. Therefore, Des Équilibres commissioned in 2018, three works inspired by Brahms’ violin sonatas from three French composers (Philippe Hersant, Nicolas Bacri and Graciane Finzi). The result, Brahms Today premiered at the “Ferme du Buisson” theatre.
The flexibility of the ensemble, depending on the program, varying from duo to octet, allows them to touch upon an extensive repertory. In 2021, the ensemble collaborates with two contemporary artists, Florentine Mulsant and Bryce Dessner, on two new programs Sensibilité à la Française and La Classe Américaine (in coproduction with the Ferme de Buisson).
In 2022 the ensemble celebrates the bicentenary of Cesar Franck. This new project, coproduced by the Ferme du Buisson, aims to recreate the complete string music compositions during four different concerts. The project continues from November 2022 until September 2023 at the Musée national de Port-Royal des Champs (78) in the context of a residency.
The interplay between convergence and contradiction is the driving force in creating a program that brims with enriching encounters. For example, in 2008, Des Équilibres collaborated with choreographer Michèle Anne De Mey on music composed by her brother, Thierry De Mey. In 2009 they joined forces with Shiro Daïmon and François Rossé to create Mukae, a dialogue between Western tradition and the Japanese art of improvisation. They also explored the classical Algerian music of Nour-Eddine Saoudi in Regards Croisés sur l’Algérie in 2013. This was followed by a collaboration with jazz pianist and composer Ray Lema on Still Point, from 2014 to 2015. Joining up with Turkish pianist Fazil Say, Des Équilibres took part in the opening concert of Marseille-Provence 2013. Throughout 2018, the Ensemble shared the stage with the Atar Trio in a journey through contemporary Israeli music. At the beginning of 2022, Des Équilibres created Une Nuit Transfigurée, a multidisciplinary piece directed by Alain Fromager which combines music, dance, painting and video. The performance offers a modern interpretation on Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night. The show had reprises in 2023 and will continue touring during the following season.
The musicians of Des Équilibres never stopped travelling: Cambodia and Myanmar in 2013, followed by journeys to Germany, Hungary, Canada, Russia, Turkey, Albania, Algeria and Morocco. In 2018, a series of concerts brought the Ensemble to Israel, Italy, Spain and Malta. Lastly, in 2020 the Ensemble discovered new territories: Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan. In 2022 the ensemble had the occasion to encounter the famous Fado singer Cristina Branco during the project Fado em Movimento created in the context of the Season France Portugal 2022. The ensemble, in trio, with Cristina Branco and the Portuguese guitarist Bernardo Couto, presents a program based on the creations of two different composers: the French Florentine Mulsant and the Portuguese Fatima Fonte. The concert is completed with a piece of traditional Fado music. The link between the three different compositions are the texts, commissioned for this occasion, from the writer Gonçalo M Tavares. After the the concerts in Portugal, Fado em Movimento was performed in France in the fall of 2022 and will have a reprise in July 2023. In 2022, the ensemble also rediscovered Malta where it returned in April 2023 with the concert Brahms Aujourd’hui.
The ensemble also occasionally develops new connections with other national scenes. Hence, for the multidisciplinary piece Une Nuit Transfigurée, Des Équilibres collaborated with the Théâtre des Salins, the ACB Bar-le-Duc and the Théâtre Châteauvallon-Liberté. As part of its residencies, the ensemble sets up artistic and educational projects. An education project in itself is Jeux de Cordes, relaunched in 2022 in the Seine-et-Marne department (77). The project is intended for 6th grade schoolchildren and is based on the creation of the French composer Graciane Finzi. The ensemble also regularly initiates charitable concerts in nursing homes, retirement homes, homes for disabled adults, juvenile halls, etc.
The discography of the ensemble, highlights, once again, their taste for discovery. In 2011, Des Équilibres became the first to record Sándor Veress’ string quartets (released by Hungaroton Records and rated four stars by the magazine Classica). In 2013, they collaborated with the Talich Quartet’s first violinist to record Bartók’s 44 Duos for Two Violins (Indésens Records). Then in 2017, they released the album, Des Cordes Marines, with recordings of string trios by Jean Cras, Albert Roussel and Joseph-Ermend Bonnal (Arion Music). In 2018, Agnès Pyka and Laurent Wagschal recorded three sonatas for violin and piano by Mieczyslaw Weinberg. This would be the first part of a series that was completed with a second album (Arion Music) in 2019 in collaboration with pianist Dimitri Vassilakis to celebrate the centenary of the composer’s birth.
The sense of isolation, caused by the various quarantine periods, would become the driving force of the recording of the three brand new pieces by Philippe Hersant, Nicolas Bacri and Graciane Finzi. These compositions, part of the project Brahms Aujourd’hui (Brahms Today), were released under the label of Klarthe in February 2021, and received already: five stars by Classica, YYYY by Diapason, FFF by Télérama, the Supersonic label by Pizzicato. Additionally, the record was nominated for the ICMA International Classical Music Award 2022. Brahms Aujourd’hui would be followed by the recording of Voyage avec un violon seul (Journey with a Solo Violin), a trip through four centuries of music figuring J.S. Bach, A. Khatchatourian and T. de Mey (digital release in autumn 2021, physical release in February 2022) under the label of Klarthe. In 2022, Des Équilibres recorded the complete chamber music for strings of César Franck, in collaboration with Klarthe label and studio Stephen Paulello. The record release is planned in 2023 and will include four different records gathered in one single box.
The ensemble Des Équilibres is supported by the DRAC Ile-de-France and is member of the FEVIS.