CHRISTOPHE MANTOUX

Biography

Christophe Mantoux is Professor of Organ at the Conservatoire Régional de Paris and Pôle Supérieur where he teaches students from all over Europe, the United States, South America, South Korea, and Japan.  Previous to his appointment in Paris, he was Professor of Organ at the Conservatoire National de Région of Strasbourg from 1992 to 2011. He also holds the post of Titular Organist at the famous Church of Saint-Séverin in Paris where he has served since 1995.

His international career as a concert organist has taken him to more than twenty countries in Europe, North and South America, South Korea, Japan and the United States. Such extensive concertizing has given him the rare opportunity to perform on many fine instruments from diverse traditions of organ building, thereby enriching his understanding of the organ and its music.


In 1984, Mr. Mantoux won the prestigious Grand Prix d’Interprétation (First Prize in Interpretation) at the Chartres International Organ Competition (Grand Prix de Chartres). Following that success, he served as Titular Organist of the Chartres Cathedral from 1986 to 1992, and he remains a member of the Artistic Committee of the Chartres International Organ Competition.

 Born in 1961 in Paris, Mr. Mantoux completed his organ studies with Gaston Litaize at the Conservatoire National de Région of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés. He later studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris, where he won First Prizes in Harmony and Counterpoint.

 Besides his active concert schedule and teaching, Mr. Mantoux is regularly invited to conduct masterclasses and workshops as well as to serve as adjudicator for international organ competitions, including the International Organ Competition at Chartres (France), the Gottfried-Silbermann-Orgelwettbewerb Freiberg (Germany), the International Organ Competition in Nurnberg (Germany), the International Organ Competition Tokyo-Musashino (Japan), the Miami International Organ Competition, (Miami, FL, United States), the International Organ Competition at Pistoia (Italy). He is a member of the National Commission for Historical Organs of France. He also leads organ tours in France for interested groups from the United States and other English-speaking countries. 

 Christophe Mantoux has contributed articles to numerous organ journals, one in English to The American Organist (July 2008).  He has recorded two CDs, one of which features the music of Guilain and Marchand, the other includes works of Jehan Alain recorded on the much celebrated Cavaillé-Coll organ in the Abbey Church of St. Ouen de Rouen (Motette 13651), which won the coveted “Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros.”  He recently recorded a disc of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach on the new organ built in the “Bach” style, by Dominque Thomas in Strasbourg, France, which should be released shortly.

M. Mantoux is represented in the United States by Penny Lorenz, Artist Management. His next tour to the US will take place late 2015 or early 2016. For information and available dates please contact Penny Lorenz.

You Tube videos:

N. de GRIGNY Ave maris stella:
http://youtu.be/4ZN28u0kudg
http://youtu.be/M-4YURzabss

Louis-Claude DAQUIN Noël suisse:
http://youtu.be/6plPi3yd6Jw

Improvisation:
http://youtu.be/XNqU_ZTa2UI

 

 

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Reviews and Comments from Press and Presenters:

Acclaimed French organist Christophe Mantoux returned to the recital series at All Souls’ Episcopal Church in Point Loma on Sunday (Feb. 16) to play a recital devoted to the music of J. S. Bach. Touching on almost every important Baroque genre that Bach championed–partita, prelude and fugue, fantasia, sonata, and chorale prelude–Mantoux offered an unusually high standard of contemporary 18th-century performance practice combined with his own intuitive affinity for the style........... Ken Herman  in “San Diego Story” 2/22/14:

 [Christophe] was absolutely superb from start to finish. Incredible virtuosity combined with the utmost in informed good taste plus a true gift for expressive, poetic interpretation. And just the best pieces, too. Well, it just doesn't get any better.….Bruce Stevens, Richmond VA, Feb 2010

 Christophe was utterly fantastic last night!!!  He got 2 well-deserved ovations from an extremely appreciative audience.  Even the most critical of Bay Area organists were wowed.  I’ll be sending you a formal appreciation letter soon—but have to let you know what a tremendous performance he gave.  His playing was immaculate, and he had the audience right in the palm of his hand.  As one parishioner put it, “This wasn’t an organ recital, it was a spiritual experience.”  I couldn’t agree with her more.  Alas, the Sanctuary wasn’t filled—in typical Bay Area fashion—but those who heard this musical miracle were absolutely raving afterwards.  His registrations were so carefully chosen, and he enthralled the audience with the astounding power and colors of the organ.  He was gracious to a fault—even putting up so kindly with people’s attempts to speak French.  We parted closer friends than when he arrived, and that, for me, is a true blessing……...Larry Marietta, First Congregational Church, Berkeley, Feb 2010

 "What a brilliant concert. It really was an enormous pleasure to hear such wonderful, varied repertoire played with such skill and elegance on our instruments. In addition, Christophe was a most charming guest...I hope we will be able to re-engage him in the future" ……..Robert Huw Morgan, Organist, Memorial Chapel, Stanford University

 “(…) Christophe Mantoux turned out to be a fine proponent of a long Parisian organ tradition. He played a sizeable and demanding program (…) so well that one is left wondering where the limits of his art lie. Experience and stylistic command created convincing interpretations not liable to any critique. Mantoux did not aim to overstop speed-limits or surprise with special effects, but spoke with the weight of a great tradition.  The first movement of Widor (…) maintained its classical poise. The unison passage of the ending was thrilling without breaking out of the context. Also Franck (…) was pure music, not a show-piece, rather like Brahms of organ music.  (About Alain) Mantoux balanced well the rhythmic idiosyncrasies with appropriate freedom. However, perhaps more than other French organists, he pointed out the floating quality of the moment.”…….Veijo Murtomäki, Helsingin Sonamant, Finland

“...the great French musician Christophe Mantoux at the organ (...) we had
the pleasure to hear Christophe Mantoux again (...) with the 5th Trio Sonata
of Bach and the 1st Suite of Clérambault : performing with brio the
luminous virtuosity of the second Allegro of the Sonate of Bach, he played the central
Largo in a singing manner, with lyricism and limpidity. As for
his interpretation of Clérambault, it was purely dazzling, perfectly in the
spirit of this French "grand siècle" (...)”…….LOUIS GARDE (LE DAUPHINE LIBERE, FRANCE)

“Mr. Mantoux played compositions by Guilain, Alain, Widor and Duruflé, and each was truly remarkable.  His interpretation of the Guilain was solid and well executed.  The Alain compositions maintained a fluid clarity that created a mystical environment not often heard in performances of Lament or Litanies.  The Widor was also excellent, fully exploiting the resources of the organ.  However, the most spellbinding of all the things he played were the Duruflé Prelude and Fugue on Alain and the Suite pour Orgue.  For lack of a better phrase, they were perfect.  It was easily the best interpretation and most lightening accurate playing of it that I have ever heard”
…… Brad Althoff, assistant producer for PIPEDREAMS, and associate organist Church of St. Louis, King of France.

“Christophe Mantoux's concert was the singular most exciting organ event to have happened here since the installation of the new Casavant in April 1998. His playing was electrifying, and no one has handled the instrument with as much skill (and we've had several other world-class organists perform here.) He is a gracious guest who would be welcomed back again”
……Thom Robertson, Organist/Director of Music, St. Louis, King of France.

"The concert by Christophe Mantoux was extremely fine!  Indeed, it was one of the more memorable events we have presented on our series. He is a brilliant musician and a true artist who plays with passion and rare integrity"
…..Anne Utter, Christ Church, Westerly RI

MANTOUX, AMONG THE SUMMITS OF 1988:
Buenos Aires : un unhoped musical summit of the year with the concert of the
French organist Christophe Mantoux in the Basilique of the Santissimo Sacramento (.)  In the first part, with the 1st movement of the 5th Symphony of Widor, and the 2nd Choral of Franck, he showed an exceptional technic domination, and the sensibility (for colours) of a master of instrumentation, as well as a vitality which literaly brought the thought of composer to life again.(.)  Mantoux played a memorable version of " l'Ascension " of O. Messiaen (..) which was like a revelation.(.) Mantoux must come again to perform more recitals, and to give master-classes for young Argentinian organists.(.) It is difficult to imagine that this thin French was one of the great virtuoses of the year in Buenos Aires. But he is.
........Napoleon Cabrera, CLARIN (ARGENTINA)

Christophe played a totally brilliant recital, and everyone was thrilled. He was a big hit with everyone.
…..Geoffrey Graham, All Souls Episcopal Church, San Diego Feb 2010

 I was at M. Mantoux’s concert Sunday afternoon and thought it was stunning.  His playing had so much to say and it held my interest from beginning to end – not to speak of his amazing technical prowess.
..….Mel Butler, St Mark’s Episcopal Church, Seattle, Feb 2010

 [Christophe] was absolutely superb from start to finish. Incredible virtuosity combined with the utmost in informed good taste plus a true gift for expressive, poetic interpretation. And just the best pieces, too. Well, it just doesn't get any better.
.….Bruce Stevens, Richmond VA, February 2010

Christophe Mantoux played ..... on Sunday, February 28, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on the Rosales organ. The Rosales organ played by Mantoux at St. Paul's is tonally distinguished, making the most of the bad organ acoustics at St. Paul's. A superlative player like Mantoux adjusts his playing to match the dead acoustics: compensating for the lack of sustained organ tone by employing a legato attachment of sounds so that the deadness is covered by organ tone, and perhaps holding those last chords a little longer. That is standard procedure. What was not standard in Mantoux's recital was the consummate musicianship that relayed exquisite beauty of some works and profound insights to others.  I came away with great appreciation for Mantoux's playing of the Duruflé Toccata -- that brilliant last movement of the Suite that seems to give-up at the midpoint and to end (several times) in a disconnected muddle. Even Duruflé is said to have detested it. But, Mantoux found an interpretation that really works well, and projected it to an appreciative audience that stood in response.  The Franck E-minor chorale sang perfectly. One great Dutch performer refuses to record the Franck works until after his 60th birthday, when he believes his maturity will enlighten the works further than his current, stellar interpretation. Mantoux, age 48, need not wait -- it seems that his poetic way with Franck could not be bettered. Indeed, one wishes for more than the single, magnificent, commercial CD from Mantoux -- his reading of the Alain works now available on the Motette label betters all others.  A magisterial reading of the first movement of the Widor Sixth Symphony left us awed and a little wet-of-eye.
..…..William Van Pelt,
Richmond, VA February 2010

Christophe’s playing was absolutely stunning.
..….Christopher Martin, Richmond, VA 2/2010

The Parisian titular organist holds a special — some would say even exalted — place in the hearts and minds of organ fans. Indeed, few musicians are subjected to the depth of training, not to mention the crucible of exams and competitions, which such a musician endures to attain the post of, say, Organiste Titulaire at the historic church of Saint-Séverin, where Christophe Mantoux presides. Add to that the finicky tastes of Parisian organ aficionados, and it’s no wonder that, when French players tour this country, they often play as if hiding behind a fortress of technique, throwing out volleys of sound like cannonballs and not particularly caring where they land. This was, fortunately, not the case Friday when Mantoux offered his generous, expressive interpretations of French repertoire on the fine Petty-Madden organ at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church. In his opening number, Alexandre Boëly’s Fantasy and Fugue in B-flat Major, he almost went out of his way to overemphasize the downbeat of each measure....Throughout the piece (actually, throughout the entire program), his registrations were balanced and lucid and his dynamic adjustments smooth and deftly handled....
    The next two pieces on the program were particularly revealing, since they normally exemplify two distinct compositional approaches from the same era. César Franck’s B-minor Chorale is considered to be the apotheosis of his highly emotional and expressive style, while the Allegro from Charles-Marie Widor’s Sixth Symphony is one of the great technical showpieces in the repertoire. It was no surprise that Mantoux’s approach to Franck’s work reflects a deep connection to that composer. He never missed an opportunity to bring out the score’s expressive quality. For instance, at the beginning of the middle section, a high solo B underscored by two explosive chords, he held the note just a tad longer than directed, exploiting the potential energy of the moment, then released the note to continue its tortuous fall into the harmonic depths.  More surprising was his interpretation of the Widor.  He was more than up to the music’s technical challenges, and brought a sense of sweep to the driving outer sections of the piece while introducing an expressive, even argumentative, quality to the developmental section. Yet this was an argument from an individual who was willing to hear other points of view. At climactic moments of the piece, the organ became almost vocal as he stretched the phrases to their maximum tipping points. Still, when he needed it, ....the drive was there. I have heard this piece played many times, and I have never heard it played better. 
    Two short pieces by Jehan Alain followed, the rarely heard Lamento and the popular Litanies. In the former, Mantoux made use of the darker colors of the organ in a stark, desolate manner, even as he ripped through the latter piece in typical French fashion, though always pausing generously at the commas, as if to give penitent petitioners a time to breathe and collect their thoughts before the next round of prayers. The ending was ferocious in its intensity. 
    Mantoux closed with Maurice Duruflé’s Suite, Op. 5. Of all his sparse compositional output, this is the composer’s darkest music, and he was apparently never totally comfortable with having written it, especially the final Toccata. Mantoux was not apologetic in his interpretation, though, virtually calling up the demons from the depths in the opening Prelude. The Sicilienne .... featured the organ’s wailing clarinet stop over a well-paced accompaniment.  This Toccata is a dance of death that strikes fear into the hearts of players and audiences alike, not just for the technical challenge but for the interpretive one, as well. So many starts and stops occur in the piece’s final third that ....(t)he organist has to tread carefully and provide a sense of momentum where it doesn’t really exist. Mantoux found the right balance of expressivity where it was needed, yet he didn’t dwell needlessly on the rests in between the final sections. At the end, he drove the piece over the expected cliff, to thunderous applause.  So, if technique is in the service of interpretation, Christophe Mantoux is a shining example of this, and he’ll have no trouble winning over converts to the French approach to literature. He can even improvise, as he showed in his unannounced encore. Wait, they teach that in France, don’t they?
.......John Karl Hirten, The San Francisco Classical Voice February 2010

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