“He internalizes the music he plays so completely that any interpretive ambivalence or miscalculation is unthinkable. The sincerity and modesty of his delivery are the keys to its power”(Washington Post)
Described as “one of the most natural performers one is likely to hear on a classical music stage” by the Washington Post, Jean Rondeau is a veritable global ambassador for his instrument. His outstanding talent and innovative approach to keyboard repertoire have been critically acclaimed, marking him out as one of today’s leading harpsichordists.
Rondeau’s 2022/23 season begins with the completion of his extensive tour of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Having met with acclaim in several dozen major European venues throughout Spring 2022, Rondeau rounds off the European portion of his tour with appearances in Spain and Germany before crossing the Atlantic for highly anticipated performances in Washington DC, Boston, Michigan, Santa Barbara, Vancouver, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Rondeau’s schedule also includes numerous performances of Poulenc’s Concert champêtre with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Tapiola Sinfonietta, and Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, as well as engagements with Freiburger Barockorchester and the English Concert in programmes dedicated to J. S Bach, with Rondeau directing from the harpsichord. A notable season highlight is Rondeau’s upcoming “artist portrait” at the Wiener Konzerthaus, featuring him as a soloist with Radio- Symphonieorchester Wien under Marin Alsop, as a chamber musician alongside his fellow co-founders of the Nevermind Quartet, and as a recitalist with his new solo programme Gradus ad Parnassum. Rondeau also performs this new programme in multiple halls across Europe including the Philharmonie de Paris, Wigmore Hall, the Tonhalle Dusseldorf, and other venues across Germany and Spain, to coincide with the eponymous album’s upcoming release by Erato in Spring 2023. Rondeau also continues various chamber music projects with long-term collaborators such as Nicolas Altstaedt, with whom Rondeau shares the stage at the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and the Nevermind quartet of which his is a co-founding member.
In June 2022, Rondeau unveiled the world premiere of UNDR at La Grange au Lac d’Evian, an event described as “explosive” by the national press. Inspired by the Goldberg Variations and composed by Rondeau in collaboration with percussionist Tancrède Kummer, this new creation conceived around two pianos and percussion will also be performed in 2022/23 at the Konzerthaus Berlin and the Musikfest Stuttgart. UNDR is Rondeau’s latest foray into the world of new music, following the 2016 premiere of his first original film score for Christian Schwochow’s Paula at Locarno Film Festival. Contemporary music is important for Rondeau; in 2018, he performed the world premiere of Eve Risser’s Furakèla for solo harpsichord at the BBC Proms.
Rondeau is signed to Erato, with whom he has recorded several albums championing ancient music. His 2022 release of J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations with its brand-new approach to the harpsichord masterpiece was met with international critical acclaim, described by Gramophone as “mesmerising”, and earned a 5‑star review from BBC Music Magazine. His previous album Melancholy Grace (2021) was acclaimed as “soulful […] varied, [and] wonderful” by the NY Times and “sublime” by Le Devoir. Barricades (2020), recorded with Thomas Dunford, likewise garnered widespread critical acclaim, as did his 2019 Scarlatti Sonata recording, which won that year’s Diapason d’Or de l’année. Earlier publications include his debut album Imagine (2015, winner of the Choc de Classica), Vertigo (2016, winner of that year’s Diapason d’Or), and Dynastie (2017).
In addition to his engagements as a soloist, recitalist and conductor, Rondeau is in high demand as a teacher and has given masterclasses worldwide from the Gstaad Academy to the University of Hong Kong. Jean Rondeau returns the Juilliard School in New York for a masterclass as part of his North American tour at the beginning of the 2022/23 season.
Rondeau studied harpsichord with Blandine Verlet at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris, followed by training in continuo, organ, piano, jazz and improvisation, and conducting. He completed his musical training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. In 2012, he became one of the youngest performers ever to take First Prize at the International Harpsichord Competition in Bruges (MAfestival 2012), aged 21.
HarrisonParrott represents Jean Rondeau for worldwide general management.
“It’s genius really”
“Rondeau pulls off a stroke of genius” ★★★★★
“A star on the harpsichord”
“A star of the Baroque, flirting with jazz.”
“A prodigy, [Jean Rondeau] brings baroque music up to date […]. A bewitching interpretation of [J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations], which suspended time for 1h40; all without intermission, he keeps us spellbound from beginning to end.”
“The stupendous fluency of his fingers, the immense imagination of the ornaments that go far beyond the score, the stylistic certainty and simultaneous high, almost artistic virtuosity of his rendition […], all this makes Rondeau’s performance in the Königssaal a singular event.”
“[Jean Rondeau] approaches the famous opening aria with a small improvisation, which he endows with dazzling changes of lighting and register. Later, too, his playing is finely balanced, the basses, for example, sometimes contoured and slender, sometimes with a flatness that tends towards background noise. […] Probably the most beautiful, most splendid substitute for silence there is.”
“His mesmerising legato finger technique and specificity of articulation consistently hold interest, along with the subtle fluidity of his inner rhythm. […] there’s no doubt that Jean Rondeau realises his intentions with a distinctive and authoritative voice.”
“Jean Rondeau, a prominent figure of the nouvelle vague of harpsichordists, adopts a spacious approach to Bach’s inspired and masterly Variations. […] his tempos feel carefully considered and are well judged, and his articulation all that we should expect from an eloquently punctuated and inflected conversation.”
“We could not wish for a greater champion of his instrument.”
“Under Rondeau’s fingers, the harpsichord […] doesn’t just sing. It inhabits an impressive gamut from a dark bronze tone to crystalline upper ranges; individual notes left shimmering in the air or layered in complex, moving chords. Sometimes, it sounds like a delicately plucked lute or a harp; at other moments, almost like an organ – and played with pedals, surely, because how else can so many fugue lines be sustained at once? Rich, complex, fascinating, this late-Renaissance world is never austere.”
“Rondeau plays as if there were no epochs and centuries between us and then, one has the feeling that this music is just emerging — from the imagination, the feeling and the freedom of a performer who does not interpret, but creates himself. This is how it begins: Rondeau comes on stage, sits down, strikes a note and then again and again, and suddenly we are in the middle of it. One could rave for a long time about the fluency of the fingers, the playful figurations that Rondeau fishes out of the air, the suppleness of the lines, the naturalness of the movement with which one flows into the other.”
“Rondeau is a wizard. Forget grace, forget melancholy – this is brilliance.”
“Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recently hosted its first foray into the [solo harpsichord recital], presenting the exciting young keyboardist Jean Rondeau at Benjamin Franklin Hall, and his Bach-heavy recital proved a knockout.”
“Stimulating and exciting, Rondeau proves that this music can sound as vital today as it did when
“For such a short work, Risser and Rondeau managed here to create a fascinating collection of effects, and in fact this proved to be a striking end to a highly impressive recital.”
“JS Bach’s BWV1056 in F minor has thoughtfulness, fun and flourish, followed by a reading of CPE Bach’s Wq23 Concerto in D minor which captures this stylistic wild child’s maverick choppiness with clipped, buoyant elegance.”
“[Rondeau’s] performance of Le vertigo is a thing of pugilistic wonder, flouncing around like an operatic diva succumbing to a hissy fit…he cuts a virtuosic swathe through Royer’s Marche des scythes…”
“Rondeau has developed an affinity for [the harpsichord] and a comfort in its presence that allow him to see in it its possibilities rather than its limitations…his agile and rock-solid finger technique means that Rameau’s Les Niais de Sologne and Royer’s La marche des Scythes can thrill as they should while never trampling on the gorgeous deep tone of the magnificent instrument…there is no doubt that he is a player of immense ability from whom we reasonably may hope for much.”
“Il est avant tout un vrai musicien, ou plutôt un « personnage musical », incomparable. J’ai rarement assisté à un concert classique aussi positivement cool et pourtant aussi juste et nourrissant, sorte de partage collectif, délectable et détendu dans les intermèdes parlés, sérieux et brillant dès que l’artiste touche au clavecin (…) Ce qui frappe en premier, c’est son sens inné et très particulier de la respiration et du timing.”
“Confié à des mains aussi expertes, le clavecin n’a rien d’un boudoir pour précieuses ridicules ou comtesses alanguies mais devient le grand écran des émotions. Jusqu’au vertige. “
“In such capable hands, the harpsichord is no longer trapped in a boudoir for pretentious young ladies and English countesses, but becomes a big screen on which emotions are played out…To the point of vertigo.”
“So gelungen können Bach-Debüts ausfallen.”
“Ici, on admire la beauté formelle d’une danseuse libérée de la gravité, là une plainte presque suffocante. La prise de risque survoltée ne brusque jamais la nature de l’instrument, c’est là tout le sel et la valeur de cette vision éblouissante.”
“Un maître du suspense qui sait ménager par son jeu ductile et dynamique plus d’une tension dramatique.”
“Ce grand travailleur a l’humilité des artistes qui savent que rien n’est jamais acquis. A 24 ans il est déjà un des grands clavecinistes de ce siècle.”
“Rondeau is one of the most natural performers one is likely to hear on a classical music stage these days. Affectation and ostentation are not part of his makeup and, once seated at the instrument, he and the harpsichord become one. Everything after that is music-making that is masculine, direct and richly human. Rondeau is a master of his instrument with the sort of communicative gifts normally encountered in musicians twice his age. He internalizes the music he plays so completely that any interpretive ambivalence or miscalculation is unthinkable. The sincerity and modesty of his delivery are the keys to its power.”
“Not only is the trajectory utterly sure-footed; he can also generate palpable excitement without resorting to empty bravado…Rondeau is a natural communicator, unimpeded by the imperative to score academic points…Make no mistake – [Vertigo] is an auspicious debut.”
“Il y a chez lui une autorité naturelle, multiplié par un certain brio, qui plonge l’auditeur dans une atmosphère de sureté, de sécurité intellectuelle.”
“On est séduit dès les premiers instants par la délicatesse du toucher, par le contact charnu et sensible avec la corde qu’il nous fait ressentir.”
“Quel toucher ! Quelle imagination! Quelles couleurs!”
“Sa virtuosité lui permet des appoggiatures foudroyantes, des incises susceptibles de nourrir et de relancer le drame, tout est vivant, ardent, captivant, toujours sur le mode dynamique et allant.”