ALEXIS DESCHARMES Guest Cellist, and Cellist, National Gallery of Art New Music Ensemble

Chosen in 2008 by Diapason magazine to represent France as a cellist – along with about ten colleagues from his generation on other instruments – Alexis Descharmes is now an active international ambassador for his instrument and its repertoire.

Born in 1977, and trained at the Paris Conservatoire (in the classes of Michel Strauss and Philippe Muller), Descharmes was the winner of the Valentino Bucchi (1997) and Avant-Scènes (1999) competitions. He was then supported in succession by various foundations (Fondation Jean Brizard, Fonds Instrumental Français, Fondation Meyer, Mécénat Musical Société Générale, and Fondation Natexis). Descharmes has worked in the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Alternance, and Ensemble Court-circuit and collaborates regularly with Ircam on its many projects.

Dedicatee of some fifty contemporary works, concertante and solo alike – Durieux, Fedele, Francesconi, Hervé, Hurel, Imai, Lanza, Levy, Mantovani, Matalon, Nillni, Pesson, Posadas, Reynolds, Saariaho, Schoeller, Solbiati, Stroppa – Alexis Descharmes’s discography consists of some twenty recordings, in solo or with the aforementioned ensembles with which he has appeared at numerous festivals and in some thirty countries. Since 2004, he records for the æon label, which has released the works for cello by Kaija Saariaho (‘ffff’ from Télérama, ‘Favourite’ of the Académie Charles Cros), Franz Liszt (Diapason d’Or of the Year, 2007), and also Schubert, and Klaus Huber anthologies with his faithful partner Sébastien Vichard.

Alexis Descharmes joined the Orchestra of the Paris National Opera in 2006. Since 2004, he collaborates regularly with French Embassy in Washington, DC for the Contemporary Music Series of La Maison Française. He became a member of the NGA New Music Ensemble in 2010.


…Descharmes’s way with his instrument combined astonishing facility with control and seeming ease…in his remarkable account of Saariaho’s Spins and Spells…

Cecelia Porter – The Washington Post, 12 December 2005

…[an] excellent concert by musicians of the Paris Opéra, a joint tribute to Carter and his fellow centenarian Olivier Messiaen…. The Carter sonata is certainly a step away to the bright-eyed, Coplandesque exuberance of his earlier works. …played by the excellent cellist Alexis Descharmes…[it] sounds like a debate between Stravinsky and Brahms, with a light, springy, percussive piano line and a big romantic cello one….

Anne Midgette – The Washington Post, 15 December 2008

…Descharmes’ complete ease with his instrument made it seem like an extension of his soul. His low register in particular had a human vocal quality, and his plucked notes reverberated like a rock guitar. Descharmes approached Carter's music with the same romance and intensity as he did Debussy's, opening the door for even the staunchest traditionalists to appreciate Carter's dissonant and unpredictable style….

Gail Wein – The Washington Post, 9 April 2005

Alexis Descharmes
Alexis Descharmes
Credit: Philippe Gontier