PORTRAIT

« I firmly believe that the accordion, through its popular character, can act as an opening to classical music and a catalyst for a revival of contemporary creation. »


INTRODUCTION

Invented by an Austrian, made in Italy, modified in Russia and widely played in Latin America, as well as being a symbol of the Roaring Twenties in France, the accordion travels well proving its adaptability. It does not end there as Félicien Brut is striving to harmonise its marginal status in the classical music arena and its overriding popular character.

Brahms, Bartók and Dvořák frequently drew from traditional sources of music: in this vein, the thirty-year old accordionist has set off on a new musical tangent with his instrument in order to assert its image and broaden its repertoire. 

« The popularity of this instrument provides an opening that must be embraced. »


FÉLICIEN BRUT, AN UNCONVENTIONAL CAREER PATH

Originally from Auvergne, Félicien Brut has shaken up the reputation of the accordion. He grew up in the middle of the Massif du Sancy and was very young when he discovered the accordion and the popular music that has long characterised it: musette or accordion music. Beginning his training in a school in the region, he played at many dances over the years. In 2009 he continued studying at the Pôle Supérieur de Bordeaux-Aquitaine because in the meantime he had also fallen in love with classical music.

Early on he spotted the divide between musicians playing accordion music at balls on the one hand and classical accordionists and teachers at the conservatoire on the other. Specialised in the classical field, and with several international prizes to his name, he founded the Trio Astoria, an ensemble devoted to Nuevo Tango music by Astor Piazzolla, and released his first album Soledad del Escualo in 2016. This was when a crazy idea came to mind: to form his own programme of classical music combined with accordion music repertoire, a style particularly close to his heart.


PIVOTAL ENCOUNTERS AND WELCOME INITIATIVES

Created in August 2017, Le Pari des Bretelles was an overnight success. Joined by the Quatuor Hermès and double bass player Edouard Macarez, Félicien Brut performed a series of concerts and recorded his first album with this ensemble that was released in January 2019, during La Folle Journée in Nantes, under the label Mirare.

Félicien pursues his approach by creating a collective to carry out audacious projects, surrounded by renowned soloists: Edouard Macarez (double bass), Renaud Guy-Rousseau (clarinet), Julien Martineau (mandolin) or Lucienne Renaudin-Vary (trumpet).

For Félicien Brut, each project becomes an opportunity to stimulate the emergence of contemporary creations, hence his very strong working relationship with the composer Thibault Perrine. After the creation of his Suite Musette for accordion and string quintet in 2017, and his Caprice d’Accordéoniste for accordion and orchestra in 2018, Félicien will perform his latest work for the first time in April 2019, alongside the Orchestre de Cannes and its musical director Benjamin Lévy: Souvenirs de Bal for accordion and orchestra.

In 2020, Félicien will create a new programme for accordion and string quintet, again with the Quatuor hermès and Édouard Macarez. This programme, entitled Neuf, also became a record, released on the Mirare label in November. It pays tribute to the great Beethoven through nine original creations by nine contemporary composers, including Fabien Waksman, Jean-François Zygel, Stéphane Delplace and Domi Emorine.

In the summer of 2020, he also founded a new duo with the wonderful guitarist Thibaut Garcia around a programme that evokes the favourite lands of their respective instruments: France, Spain and Latin America. They commissioned a work for guitar and accordion from the composer Thibaut Perrine, Lidia, which will be premiered in June 2021.

As 2021 marks the centenary of the great Astor Piazzolla, Félicien will pay tribute to him surrounded by four friends and wonderful musicians: Thomas Enhco (piano), Thibaut Garcia (guitar), Jordan Victoria (violin) and Édouard Macarez (double bass). This quintet, dedicated to Astor’s Tango Nuevo, will also make room for creation with Vol de Nuit, a piece composed especially for this group by Thomas Enhco. It is also as a soloist, with orchestra, that Félicien will make Piazzolla’s music resound, in particular his concerto for bandoneon and his double concerto for bandoneon and guitar alongside Thibaut Garcia.

From popular music to learned music, from original pieces to the most unexpected transcriptions, Félicien Brut has never ceased to defend the mixed and polymorphous character of the accordion. He has undeniably established himself as the representative of his instrument in the new generation of classical musicians of today and, let’s be sure, has not finished surprising us…