In 2010, the festival akouphène gave Brice Catherin a carte blanche to create an "event". This was the kickstart of the project of a trilogy for cello and free ensemble. That is to say three concertos that can be played by the same cellist using a very different technique per concerto:
Winterreise, for cello with curved bow (or BACHbogen), premiered in October 2010;
Verklärte Nacht, for electric cello with live electronic treatment, premiered in November 2012;
An die Musik, for a one-cellist band, premiered in January 2014.
Von der Musik, a 10 minutes coda (ad libitum) to the trilogy, for a one-cellist-band with electronic and four string musicians, premièred in March 2014.

Besides this, each concerto contains one or more obligatory instruments: a snare drum in Winterreise, a bassoon player and a brass player in Verklärte Nacht, a string quartet in An die Musik. The expression "free ensemble" means that the orchestra part can be played by any instruments. The titles, all taken from romantic and post-romantic compositions, are referring to a certain atmosphere, a link to expression and to certain themes, and not at all to the aesthetic of the original pieces.


In October 2010 at the cinema Spoutnik, Brice Catherin brought together fifteen musicians to premiere Winterreise, a 40 minutes concerto for cello (played with a curved bow, or "Bach Bogen") and free ensemble.

The concept of the concerto was the following: the piece had to be played in a single day by any ensemble of musicians, including individuals who may not know how to read music (but are professional musicians nonetheless). The challenge was therefore, to obtain a rich counterpoint and a refined orchestral part in spite of the obstruction created by a rather graphic score.

As for the solo cello, by not being restrained by any technical limit nor rehearsal time, its part is mainly composed of triple and quadruple stops (with, most of the time, a different playing mode on each string), made possible by the use of the curved bow.

Here is a low quality version of the first 3 minutes 55 of the concerto, which is available for free in a high quality version on Pan y Rosas netlabel. Brice Catherin is playing the cello, with: Marc Berman (accordeon), Rodolphe Loubatiere (percussion), Raphaël Ortis (electric bass), d'incise (electronic),Vinz Vonlanthen (guitar), Magali Guillain (cello), Laurent Estoppey (saxophone), Alexandra Bellon (steel drum), Simon Aeschimann (guitar), Lucie Mauch (clavichord), Jamasp Jhabvala (violin), Richard Jean (guitar), Yannick Barman (trompet), Lea Sangiorgio (clarinet), Noémie Cotton (accordeon), Antoine Lang (voice), Johann Bourquenez (synthesiser), Marie Schwab (viola), Navin Gopaldass (bass), Christophe Schweizer (trombone) and Claude Jordan (flute).

Another full version recorded in Japan in November 2013 is available by clicking here.
Another full version recorded in Sion (Switzerland) in March 2015 is available by clicking here.

A page from

the curved bow
©Michael Bach.

Old cover of the album
by Mélissa Tun Tun.

study for the
cover of the album
by Mélissa Tun Tun.

study for the
cover of the album
by Mélissa Tun Tun.


Verklärte Nacht

For Verklärte Nacht, the soloist plays the electric cello with live electronic treatment, entirely controlled by the soloist. Verklärte Nacht was premiered by the outstanding cellist Nicolas Deletaille, along with Ludovic Thirvaudey at the obbligato bassoon (here, bassoon and fagotino) and Christophe Schweizer at the obbligato horns (here, euphonium and bass trumpet). The rest of the orchestra: Alexandra Bellon, percussions; Anne Briset, percussions; Christophe Berthet, double bass clarinet; Carla Claros, flute; Joachim Forget, clavichord; Nathalie Huber, harmonium; d'Incise, computer; Jamasp Jhabvala, violin; Claude Jordan, flute and bass flute; Mazen Kerbaj, trumpet; Coralie Lonfat, computer; Rodolphe Loubatiere, snare drum; Lucie Mauch, spinet; Nicolas Michel, dulciane and contrabssoon; Violeta Motta, traverso and flute; David Sage, trompet; Viva Sanchez-Reinoso, voice; Christoph Schiller, spinet; Daniel Tyrrell, guitar; Gregor Vidic, baritone saxophone; Manon Widmer, guitar.

Here is a 15 minutes extract from the premiere at the bibliothèque de Saint-Jean in Geneva on the 24th of November 2012.


An die Musik

An die Musik was composed for and premiered by the pupils of the EJMA (Jazz School of Lausanne, Switzerland). The part of the soloist is written for a "one-cellist-band", that is to say one musician playing more than thirty instruments. The soloist is therefore an ensemble on his own. Along with him/her come a string quartet that either play or conduct the free ensemble and a few members of the audience. Before the piece starts, a few slide whistles have been distributed to these members of the audience. The full recording of the second concert (Galpon, Geneva, 15th of February 2014) is available for money (CD) and for free (online streaming) right here. As a mise-en-bouche, here are the last ten minutes of the premiere (EJMA, Lausanne, Switzerland, 26th of January 2014) with:

Cello solo: Brice Catherin

String quartet and conductors:
Patrick Schleuter (violin), Fanny Martin-Loren (violin), Marie Schwab (viola) and Aurélien Ferrette (cello)

Free ensemble, pupils of the EJMA:
Jimmy Barbier (drums), Romain Baud (piano), Cédric Blaser (guitar), Julie Blocher (accordion), Sonja Bossart (bass), Eric Fell (guitar), Colin Gauthier (drums), Laurent Glur (drums), Jean-Noël Gos (basse), Stephan Gramunt (guitar), Clément Grin (drums), David Lasri (piano), Bastien Martin (guitar), Jules Martinet (bass), Killian Perret-Gentil (guitar), Daniel Rölli (korg), Can Unal (Nord Electro 4 HP), Andrea Zinzi (guitare).

Free ensemble, extras:
Yannick Barman (trumpet), Frédéric Danel (voice), Nicolas Deletaille (cello piccolo), Joséphine Maillefer (voice), Nicolas Michel (bassoon), Christophe Schweizer (trombone).

EJMA, Lausanne, Switzerland, 26th of January 2014, recorded by radio Espace 2.


Von der Musik

Von der Musik is a ten minutes coda to the trilogy of concertos. It can be played on its own or after having played the three concertos in a row. It is written for a one-cellist-band and four string players. It was premièred on the 10th of March 2014 at the Théâtre de la Comédie (Geneva, Switzerland) by the composer (electric cello, drums, clavichord, guitar, recorder, etc.), as well as Simos Papanas, Matthias Müller, Katya Polin and Ira Givol all playing on one single cello.



Download for free on Pan y Rosas.

An die Musik contains the last episode of my trilogy for cello and ensemble. It's available on Drone Sweet Drone records.