Scherzi Musicali

Early Music Ensemble

“Nicolas Achten and his Belgian collective share a virtue that cannot be taught or cultivated, but get lost quickly: freshness.” (Diapason Magazine).

I n more than ten years of existence, the Belgian collective Scherzi Musicali has become an essential ensemble in the world of early music, renowned for its work on the repertoires of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which it explores with insatiable pleasure. Rediscovered or great repertoire, Scherzi Musicali aims to approach music with the same objectivity, and each of the parameters of their interpretation is the subject of research and reflection, in search of the most appropriate philological choices to approach each musical style.

Composed of three to more than forty musicians, the ensemble is centred around its founder and artistic director, Nicolas Achten (°1985), who sings with the lute or theorbo, the harp or the harpsichord. He is surrounded by a nucleus of young singers and instrumentalists with whom, concert after concert, he develops a sound identity focused on basso continuo instruments and their interaction with the rhetoric of singing. He is surrounded by a nucleus of young singers and instrumentalists with whom, concert after concert, he develops a sound identity focused on basso continuo instruments and their interaction with the rhetoric of singing.

Scherzi Musicali speelde al concerten over heel Europa: Festival de Wallonie, Festival van Vlaanderen, deBijloke, deSingel, Concertgebouw Brugge, Amuz, Bozar, Automne Musical de Spa, ​Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht​, Operadagen Rotterdam, Ferrara Musica, Amici Della Musica di Padova, the Venetian Festival of Baroque Music, Tage Alter Musik Herne, Musikfestspiele Potsdam, Musikverein Wien, Kölner Philharmonie, Itinéraire Baroque en Périgord Vert, Embaroquement Immédiat, Festival d’Ambronay, enz.

Aware of its educational mission, Scherzi Musicali regularly collaborates with the “Jeunesses Musicales” and “Jeugd & Muziek” to introduce young audiences to early music.

The discography of Scherzi Musicali includes ten recordings to date, eight of which are world premieres: “L’Euridice” – 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), “Il Pianto d’Orfeo” – Monteverdi, Caccini, Peri… (2013) and “La Maddalena”, oratorio by Antonio Bertali (2016). A second volume of Fiocco’s motets was published in March 2017, followed by “Dialoghi Amorosi”- Sances (2017) – and “O Penosa Lontananza” – unpublished cantatas by Alessandro Scarlatti (2018)- & “O Splendida Dies” – motets de Giovanni Paolo Colonna (2019). These albums have been published by Alpha, Musique en Wallonie, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi/Sony and Ricercar, for whom the ensemble now records exclusively.

Each of their recordings has generated real enthusiasm in the international press: Diapason d’or découverte, Choc (Classica), Joker (Crescendo magazine), Octaves de la Musique, La Clé (ResMusica), Prelude Classics Award, 4 stars (Monde de la musique), Muse d’Or & Muse du mois (Muse baroque), Golden Ring (Classic Info), Outstanding (International Record Review), Pix Cæcilia, etc.

Scherzi Musicali is supported by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (Directorate General for Culture, Music Department) and is “artist in residence” at the Koninklijk Museum Voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen from 2018 to 2022.

“Nicolas Achten et son collectif belge partagent une vertu qui ne s’enseigne pas, ne se cultive pas et se perd vite : la fraîcheur.“ (Diapason Magazine).

Baryton, harpsichordist, lutenist, harpist and ensemble conductor, Nicolas Achten (Brussels, 1985) made a very young place for himself in the world of early music: winner of the 7th International Baroque Song Competition of Chimay in 2006, he was elected classical artist of the year 2009 at the Octaves de la Musique and “Young Musician of the Year Award 2009” awarded by the Union de la presse musicale belge.

Nicolas Achten studied singing, lute, harpsichord and early harp at the Royal Conservatories of Brussels and The Hague; he completed his training in various master classes, including at the Baroque Academy of Ambronay and the Centre de la Voix de Royaumont.

He has been invited since 2004 by prestigious early music ensembles, including Arpeggiata, Fenice, La Petite Bande, Ausonia, Les Agrémens, Akadêmia, Les Talens Lyriques, Il Fondamento, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Il Seminario Musicale, le Poème Harmonique, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, and under the direction of conductors such as Jean Tubéry, Sigiswald Kuijken, Marc Minkowski, Christophe Rousset and René Jacobs.

He is today one of the few classical singers to accompany himself, returning to historical practice. Eager to deepen this approach and put his research into practice, he founded the ensemble Scherzi Musicali, whose concerts throughout Europe and 10 recordings aroused the unanimous enthusiasm of the public and the international press (Diapason d’or découverte, Classica Shock, Crescendo Joker, ResMusica Key, Prelude Classics Award 2009, Golden Muse, Classic Ring Info, “Outstanding” in the International Record Review, Pix Cæcilia…).

In the margins, Nicolas also explores atypical encounters, in duet with folk accordionist Dider Laloy, or in trio with jazz saxophonist Manu Hermia or pop/rock singer Kris Dane.

Nicolas Achten teaches singing, lute and applied theory of early music at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. He was musical director of the summer courses of Muziektheater Transparant from 2007 to 2015, and is regularly invited to masterclasses throughout Europe (Operastudio Vlaanderen, SIMAW in Namur, University of East Anglia, the Yorke Trust in Norfolk, Conservatorio Milano, etc.).

Scherzi Musicali is…

baryton, luth, clavecin, harpe triple, direction artistique 
Nicolas Achten

Deborah Cachet
Wei Lian Huang
Griet de Geiter 

Luciana Mancini
Pauline Claes

William H. Shelton
Leandro Marziotte

Reinoud Van Mechelen
Francisco Mañalich

Sönke Tams Freier

cornet à bouquin
Lambert Colson
Sarah Dubus

Patrizio Germone
Ortwin Lowyck

viol, lirone 
Justin Glaie
Lies Wyers

lute, archlute, theorbo 
Solmund Nystabakk
Paul Kieffer
Simon Linné
François Dambois
Justin Glaie

harpsichord, organ 
Philippe Grisvard
Matthieu Valfré
Haru Kitamika

…but also:

Hanna Al-Bender
Astrid Stockman
Gwendoline Blondeel
Andrea Gavagnin
Pierre Derhet
Romain Bockler

Stéphanie Pfister
Jasmine Eudeline
Joanna Huszcza
Mathilde Wolfs
Edouard Catalan
Valentin Bajou
Thomas Baeté
Benoît Vanden Bemden
François Joubert-Caillet
Romina Lischka
Korneel Bernolet
Beniamino Paganini

Sarah Ridy
Francesco Corti

in memoriam Eriko Semba (1973-2018)

For the ears…

… & for the eyes

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