Critical praise has been heaped on his performances of everything from early works for guitar to the instrument’s great Romantic showpieces, contemporary music and a wide range of transcriptions. Guitar Salon International recently described him as “one of the most exciting classical guitarists of his generation”, while Classical Guitar has called him “a tremendously versatile and sensitive player”. Now, at the age of 26, Raphaël Feuillâtre is signing to Deutsche Grammophon.
“The guitar has so many unexpected colours and timbres that it’s an endless source of inspiration,” says Feuillâtre. “And I get so immersed in the soundworld of whatever I’m playing that I totally forget about my instrument.” Such freedom is only possible because this young French musician has already mastered the guitar as few others have done. His technique is flawless, his expressivity magical, his articulation limpid, his ornamentation spectacular. Although capable of virtuosic display, he prefers a more understated style, leaving the music to speak for itself. “My goal is always to allow the guitar to sing and convey emotion,” he explains.
Feuillâtre made his international breakthrough in 2018 as winner of the prestigious Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition. He embarked soon after on an extensive tour that included recitals in the US, Canada and Latin America; he also went on to perform widely throughout Europe, and in China, marking a seamless transition from the competition circuit to life as a professional soloist. His career was given a further boost when he received the rare distinction of being selected as one of French performing rights association ADAMI’s “classical discoveries” of 2021.
“Signing with Deutsche Grammophon is a huge honour,” says Feuillâtre. “The label’s been part of my life since I was very young and it’s introduced me to so many great guitar works – and classical music in general. The first album my teacher lent me was Narciso Yepes’ DG recording of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. It means the world to me to have the opportunity to fully realise my artistic ambitions and to share my love for the guitar, its repertoire and its unique sound.”
Deutsche Grammophon’s Senior Director Classical, Artists & Repertoire, Angelika Meissner, discovered the young guitarist online in September 2020. Captivated by the video of his winning GFA Competition performance she reached out to him. “I was completely mesmerised by the subtlety and originality of his playing,” she recalls. “I couldn’t find an email address for him so contacted him through social media. He hardly ever checked his messages but when he did, he thought mine must be a hoax! We finally connected after two months and I am so thrilled that we did. Raphaël has a rare ability to make his instrument sing with exquisite tenderness and beauty by giving space for the music to grow even in the fastest, most virtuosic of pieces. His debut album will feature arrangements and transcriptions of works by Bach, Rameau and others, reflecting his profound affinity for Baroque music.”
Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon, predicts an exciting future for Feuillâtre and his relationship with the Yellow Label. “It’s a tremendous pleasure to welcome Raphaël to DG’s family of artists. I know he’ll add something fresh and exciting to our catalogue, which includes benchmark recordings by the legendary Andrés Segovia, Göran Söllscher and Narciso Yepes. The intense focus of his music-making and his charismatic presence allow him to speak straight to the listener’s heart.”
Raphaël Feuillâtre was born in 1996 in Djibouti and grew up in the small city of Cholet in western France. Although his parents were not musicians, they recognised his passion for music after he was given a plastic guitar at the age of seven. Two years later, Raphaël enrolled at the Cholet Conservatoire, where he received his first guitar lessons from Hacène Addadi.
He continued his studies at the Conservatoire de Nantes, with Michel Grizard, whom he credits with inspiring him to become a professional guitarist, and at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique in Paris, where his teachers included Roland Dyens and Tristan Manoukian. He has also worked for a number of years with Judicaël Perroy. “I’ve learned from many people along the way,” notes Feuillâtre, already a dedicated and respected teacher himself. “But Judicaël helped me prepare for the international competitions I took part in and guided me as I embarked on my career. I’m especially grateful for his mentorship.”