Thomas ENHCO, composer

Après l’Orage (for accordion and string quintet)
a piece freely inspired by Beethoven’s Sonata opus 111

« Opus 111, the last of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, is also one of his latest works for the piano ; it is often considered as his “Farewell to the piano”. That’s why I wanted to pay tribute to him in this very different instrumentation, accordion and string quintet.

I chose to focus on the theme of the second movement, Arietta, a pure and simple melody in C major from which Beethoven wrote six monumental variations of an immense rhythmic and thematic richness.

I imagined that we are at the end of Beethoven’s life, his deafness is now total and his song is peaceful and bright, like a rainbow after the storm, when the sun breaks through the last drops rain, and cold and hot at the same time.

I kept the measure at nine beats (three times three) and I played with the rhythm and the « carrure » (superposition of 3 and 4 on the strings), over which the accordion distorts and shifts the pattern to as the harmony changes, then plays lyrical variations as if he were improvising.

The central part, which highlights the quartet, is in A minor as the second theme of Arietta, and makes fit three cells of three, like Russian dolls : a « carrure » by three measures, each measure with three beats, each beat divided into three eighth notes. It’s a faint echo of the thunderstorm as it rolls away on the horizon.

The harmonics of the strings, at the beginning and the end, evoke this scintillating and fragile light, like a glass harmonica which would accompany the song of the accordion.»

Thomas Enhco

Thomas Enhco in a few lines…

Thomas Enhco, born in Paris, France in September 1988, is a French pianist and composer (jazz and classical music). He starts playing the violin and the piano at the age of 3, gives his first concerts and writes his first compositions at 6. At the age of 9, Didier Lockwood invites him to perform on stage with him at the jazz festivals of Antibes Juan-les-Pins, Vienne and Marciac. He studies jazz at CMDL and classical piano with the great master Gisèle Magnan. At 16, he enters the Paris Conservatory (CNSMDP), from which he is expelled two years later. Since then, he has released 8 albums as a leader and has been playing an average of 100 concerts per year around the world, both in classical and jazz venues and festivals. 

His first album Esquisse, written and recorded at the age of 15 with his trio (and featuring drums-legend Peter Erskine) comes out in 2006. Thomas becomes then Laureate of Fonds d’Action SACEM. 

In 2008 he is spotted by the great Japanese producer Itoh “88” Yasohachi, who makes him record three albums (Someday My Prince Will Come, The Window and the Rain in Japan and Jack and John with Jack Dejohnette and John Patitucci at Avatar Studios in New York) and invites him for ten tours in Japan, in solo, duo and trio. 

In 2012, he moves to New York where he plays in jazz clubs and collaborates with many artists, and he releases this same year on Label Bleu his self-produced album Fireflies (winner of Victoires du Jazz 2013). In 2014 he signs with Universal Music and records for label Verve his solo piano album Feathers (nominated for « Best album » at Victoires du Jazz 2015). 

Parallel to his jazz career, Thomas Enhco develops in the classical music world. In 2016 he releases on legendary label Deutsche Grammophon the album Funambules, in duo with percussion virtuoso Vassilena Serafimova. Their explosive duet without borders tours worldwide and wins the 2nd Grand Prize at Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in 2017 (Japan). 

In 2017, he makes his debut as a soloist with symphony orchestras in Gershwin’s Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue, Mozart’s Piano Concerto K.491 (no. 24), Ravel’s Concerto in G, John Adam’s Eros Piano, Bach’s Concerto for Four Keyboards (BWV 1065), Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and his own first Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, with Orchestre de l’Opéra National de Lorraine, Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn, Orchestre Régional Avignon Provence, Ensemble Appassionato, Geneva Camerata, Orchestre de Cannes, Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France and Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine, under the baton of conductors Julien Masmondet, Pierre Dumoussaud, Samuel Jean, Mathieu Herzog, Jean-Claude Casadesus, David Greilsammer, Junichi Hirokami, Benjamin Lévy, James Gaffigan and Fayçal Karoui. He is also invited as a soloist by Radio France Choir (dir. Sofi Jeannin) and Spirito Choir (dir. Nicole Corti) in programs around Brahms and his own compositions. 

As a composer, Thomas Enhco has written more than 100 works and regularly gets commissions from orchestras, chamber music ensembles, soloists, choirs and festivals. He has notably composed a Concerto for Piano and Orchestra and a Double Concerto for Piano, Marimba and Orchestra (premiere in February 2019) for the OPPB Orchestra, four pieces for pianist Lise de la Salle (album Bach Unlimited, Naïve 2017), a suite for Brass Quintet and Piano (for Local Brass Quintet — album Stay Tuned, Klarthe 2019), a piece for Choir and Piano (for Spirito Choir)… He has also composed the credits of radio shows “La Récréation” and “Le Grand Atelier” on France Inter, and two film scores: Aux Arts Citoyens by Daniel Schick (2010) and Les Cinq Parties du Monde by Gérard Mordillat (for which he wins the 2012 FIPA d’Or for Best Original Score). 

Just before turning thirty, Thomas Enhco records for Sony Music the album Thirty, which comprises seven new solo pieces and his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. (Release: February 2019 on Sony Classical, Paris concert on April 17, 2019 at La Cigale). 

For the past ten years, he has been playing an average of 100 concerts per year around the world. Among the jazz venues that have invited him, are jazz festivals of Tokyo, Montreal, Vienne, Montreux, Istanbul, Gent, Middelheim, North Sea, La Villette, l’Olympia… and among the classical venues, are festivals of La Roque d’Anthéron, Piano aux Jacobins, Philharmonie de Paris, Opéra de Bordeaux, Flagey in Brussels, French May in Hong Kong, Shanghai Grand Theater, Folle Journée de Nantes, Tokyo, Warsaw, New York, Mozarteum in Salzburg, Théâtre du Châtelet, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Beijing Concert Hall… 

The Philharmonie de Paris features him regularly, equally as a jazz and as a classical artist, and offers him a “carte blanche” at the 2017 Jazz à la Villette festival, features him at its weekend around Bach and as a soloist in his own Concerto and in Ravel’s Concerto in G in 2018. In 2019, he will participate in the performances of the complete Piano Etudes by Philip Glass, with the composer. 

He is invited by the main French television and radio shows (C à Vous – France 5, Quotidien – TMC, Le Grand Échiquier, Fauteuils d’Orchestre – France 2…) and his recordings and concerts are praised par the national and 

foreign press. 

As an educator, he gives masterclasses on improvisation, teaches jazz (piano and violin) at CMDL and since 2018 writes the jazz section of bi-monthly magazine Pianiste

Thomas Enhco has won numerous prizes and awards, among which the 3rd Grand Prize at the 2010 Martial Solal International Jazz Piano Competition, the 2010 Django d’Or « New Talent », the 2012 FIPA d’Or for Best Film Score, the 2013 Victoire du Jazz « Révélation » (also nominated at the 2015 Victoires du Jazz), the 2nd Grand Prize at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition, the 2017 Sacem ACEG Prize. 

Collaborations with other artists include (Jazz): Didier Lockwood, Mike Stern, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jack DeJohnette, Gilad Hekselman, José James, Baptiste Trotignon, Ari Hoenig, Patrick Zimmerli, Dan Tepfer, Ibrahim Maalouf, Emile Parisien, Vincent Peirani, David Enhco, Biréli Lagrène, Anne Paceo, Hugh Coltman, Peter Erskine, Daniel Humair, André Ceccarelli, Victor Lewis, John Patitucci, Hein Van de Geyn, Lew Soloff, Sylvain Luc, François & Louis Moutin, Joel Frahm, Cyrille Aimée… (Classical): Vassilena Serafimova, Henri Demarquette, Renaud Capuçon, Natalie Dessay, Laurent Naouri, Jean- François Zygel, Michel Dalberto, Anne-Sofie Von Oter, the Arod, Hanson, Modigliani and Voce string quartets, Beatrice Rana, Jérôme Pernoo, Caroline Casadesus, Lise de la Salle, Déborah Nemtanu, Xavier Philips… As well as pop singers Jane Birkin, Christophe, Oxmo Puccino, dancer and choreographer Marie-Claude Pietragalla, director Alain Sachs, cartoonist Aurélia Aurita… 

Since 2013, Thomas Enhco is supported in his projects by Fondation BNP Paribas.