Press

Nils Mönkemeyer (Viola), Bamberger Symphoniker , M. Poschner (Dirigent) ǀ

„Viola Baroque! It is not unusual that violists fall back on the cello suites of Bach. But the way Nils Mönkemeyer does it on his CD „Baroque“, that’s something else. Already at the beginning of the record, in a suite by Robert de Visée, his instrument sounds delicate as a viol, and his flexible bow hand leads to a speaking articulation. In Bach’s Suite No. 5 in C Minor (which also exists in a version for lute), this highly detailed tone benefits both the dance rhythm and the polyphony of the pieces. Here Mönkemeyer bravely enters an experiment: he plays the lute setting together with the Andreas Arend and the cello score as a solo work and entwines both Suites with each other. Meaning: each lute arrangement follows the solo variant. So this suite expands to about 50 minutes! Nevertheless, this interpretation is fascinating in every single detail. Mönkemeyer’s art of diverse expressive nuances is reflected in the sarabande, which only consists of relatively few notes, but demands more intensity from the performer. “
Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung | June 2018 | Album Baroque / Classic CD of the Month

„A Jewel.“
Hörzu | June 2018 | Album Baroque

„Meditative, expressive: Nils Mönkemeyer shows on his new CD that he is also one of the best viola virtuosos in terms of baroque tonal speech. It is fantastic, how perfectly clean Nils Mönkemeyer intones.“
hr2 Kultur | May 2018 | Album Baroque

„This great violist builds up an amazing excitement, the variations of colors of his performances seems to be unlimited.“
Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag | April 2018 | Album Baroque

„A convincing expert on the viola, who played the first violin here. The bright awake ensemble unrolled the musical carpet on which Mönkemeyer struck his filigree strings-somersaults, without bending George Philipp Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G major to even an eighth note. The unusually warm, sometimes darkly shimmering viola surprised under the hands of the Soloists, leading to an amazing listening experiences, coupled with an always space-creating joy of playing and ornamentation. Mönkemeyer’s bowing and playing techniques astonish, letting the last notes fall into inaudible nothing to catch your breath. “
Münstersche Zeitung | April 2018 | Concerto with l‘arte del mondo

„Nils Mönkemeyer now made his debut with the Gürzenich Orchestra, with a program idea: as an entrance to the concert,a rarely performed concert has given Esa-Pekka Salonen a „Pentatonic étude“ for solo viola. The
quoted phrase sounds a bit like blues and western music, but bends and weighs virtuoso and artful for minutes, the bow races over the strings, with emotion to rage. A German premiere on Sunday. Mönkemeyer’s explosive rudeness at the really hearty interpreted concert surprised.“
Kölnische Rundschau | February 2018 | Bartók Viola Concerto with Gürzenich Orchestra under Nicholas Collon, Philharmonic Cologne

„Chamber music of a higher dimension was created this evening. Arabella Steinbacher with the violin, Nils Mönkemeyer with the viola and the Mozarteum orchestra acted like three characteristic actors of a trio, who interactively feel each other, act organically and set solo highlights. And suddenly Steinbacher and Mönkemeyer took center stage when they found each other in the Andante for a wonderfully intimate instrumental love duet. “
Nürnberger Zeitung | December 2017 | Mozart Sinfonia concertante with Arabella Steinbacher and Mozarteum Orchestra under Constantinos Carydis, Concert Nuremberg

„How the two played in the most sensitive way the motives, how they sought to fuse their instruments with lucid tone and how they embedded themselves in the orchestral sound, was of the highest artistry and deeply touching…“
Frankfurter Neue Presse | December 2017 | Mozart Sinfonia concertante with Arabella Steinbacher and Mozarteum Orchestra under Constantinos Carydis, Alte Oper Franfurt

„His tone is creamy-yearning, yet crisp if necessary. Together with Markus Poschner and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Mönkemeyer lays a bittersweet soundtrack across this twentieth century with this album. “
Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Bestseller 4-2017 | November 2017 | Album Walton, Bruch, Pärt

„Still, newer and newest music is often experienced either in strict specialist concerts or as a usually short insert in traditional programs. How to do it differently, the violist Nils Mönkemeyer and the pianist William Youn demonstrate with an extraordinarily original and intelligently designed evening in the Pierre Boulez hall. […] With this dialogue, the two musicians give the audience an unusually thought-filled concert experience. “
The Daily Mirror | November 2017 | Concert with William Youn (piano), Pierre Boulez Saal Berlin

„If there is an interpret who has brought the viola back to public attention, it is certainly Nils Mönkemeyer. He may even be the pop star of the viola virtuosos of our time and one of the few viola soloists of the younger generation. “
Klassik.com | October 2017 | Album Walton, Bruch, Pärt

„With his sensitive bowing, his velvet tone and his breathing phrasing, Nils Mönkemeyer proves to be a singing instrumentalist in Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro op. 70, as in his“ Fairy Tale Paintings „op. 113. The word intimate is (sadly) not a buzz word today; no other suited better the way in which the musicians of this concert lined their echo room. An unforgettable evening. “
Stuttgarter Zeitung | September 2017 | Concert with Sarah Connolly (soprano), Hugo Wolf Academy Stuttgart

„Beautifully colorful and multi-faceted tone, wonderful lines – this album is a real asset.“
Main Post | September 2017 | Album Walton, Bruch, Pärt

„Walton’s concert is a stroke of luck in his catchy combination of romantic and modern features
for the viola – especially if the solo part is played as fine-gracefully and selectively juicy as from
Nils Mönkemeyer. He does not rely on splayed virtuosity, but convinces with a sincerity that proves
deep understanding of music. “
Augsburger Allgemeine | September 2017 | Album Walton, Bruch, Pärt

„For years he proves that the viola is in no way inferior to the violin and the cello.“
Swiss Radio SRF2 Culture | August 2017 | Album Walton, Bruch, Pärt

„Mönkemeyer, the mastermind of it all, proves yet again that with a little fantasy and the desire for freedom, it is still possible to make a classical album which holds great appeal for a broad spectrum of listeners.“
Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag | May 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„This is a most intimate gathering of classical stars, whose allure never lay in affectation or pure virtuosity. On this CD, their entire skill converges as if through a magnifying glass, first on the young, searching Mozart, and then on the formal perfection of the later duos and trios.“
Thüringische Landeszeitung | May 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„An occasional jam session with friends is not uncommon amongst musicians. In the case of today’s most prominent violist Nils Mönkemeyer (ok, there’s not that much competition), his friends, violinist Julia Fischer and clarinettist Sabine Meyer, also happen to be masters of their instruments. Add to that the young, up-and-coming South-Korean pianist William Youn, and the line-up is complete for ‚Mozart with Friends‘. The four musicians interpret the works of the Salzburg master, including the Kegelstatt Trio and the violin-viola duo, with affectionate, unagitated, and in places mischievous gesture. The result is a concept which may not fill the biggest halls, but in a more intimate setting – indeed amongst friends – it works like a charm.“
APA-Journal (Austria) | May 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„Nils Mönkemeyer seeks out adumbral, melancholy tone colours in Mozart. He strikes it rich in both the early sonatas and the Variations K360 ‚Helas j’ai perdu mon amant‘, in the company of his congenial piano partner, William Youn. In the Kegelstatt Trio alongside star clarinettist Sabine Meyer, the timbres blend most beautifully. Mozart himself owned a viola and loved to play it. With this CD you can see why.“
Kultur-Tipp (Switzerland) | May 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„As fellow champions of the cause, he has won over Sabine Meyer, Julia Fischer and William Youn: an exceedingly fortunate liaison; sensitive in matters of ensemble-playing, natural and full of inspiration. The communication between instruments is tremendously lively, free and expressive, and the relish a true musician derives from moulding the music can be felt in every bar. A great success!“
Concerti | May 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„In Mozart with Friends, Nils Mönkemeyer follows a similar concept to earlier albums: he plays the neglected and underrated repertoire of popular composers. He also gives the music a dramaturgical context – in this case, the theme of friendship. Sceptics can rest assured, it’s more than just a pretty label. Previously overlooked connections between cultural history and composition are here made tangible, and yet in spite of the original programme construction, this CD is compelling primarily due to its musical qualities.“
SWR 2 | April 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„For this exhilarating recording, four of classical music’s top stars have teamed up to replicate Mozart’s practice of composing pieces for friends and fellow musicians to play with him. […] The pleasure these great musicians derive from playing together is audible, and the insights into Mozart in lighter moments are a revelation.
Classic FM | April 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„Mönkemeyer, returning in a Bach Sarabande to the powerful concentration of Bartok’s first two movements (Bartok Concerto for Viola and Orchestra ed.), kept it simple. In doing so, he held the work – in spite of its great contrasts – in an epic balance.“
Leipziger Volkszeitung | April 2016 | Concert with the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra under Markus Stenz, Leipzig Gewandhaus

 

„Heavenly enchantment in a dream trio“
Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung | April 2016 | Heidelberger Frühling, release concert of Mozart with Friends CD with Sabine Meyer and William Youn

 

„The viola forges musical friendships. In the history of philosophy, the value of friendship was defended first and foremost by the great Epicurus in Ancient Greece. […] It would seem that Mozart, an indisputable Epicurean, took the notion of friendship very seriously. Of the many musicians he was involved with, there were some to whom he felt a deep connection, in particular the legendary clarinettist Anton Stadler. […] One is reminded of this by the wonderful CD on the Sony label from Nils Mönkemeyer, who has gathered three famous friends together, calling to mind that very Stadler-Mozart alliance. The musicians are clarinettist Sabine Meyer, violinist Julia Fischer and pianist William Youn, and on listening, one can imagine that the interpretations are not only formed at the instruments but also in convivium. The list of works is exquisite, and there are discoveries to be made, too.“
Rheinische Post | April 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„Mozart with Friends has much more to offer than just transcriptions of viola sonatas. The exceptional violist Nils Mönkemeyer actually serves up for starters two original compositions by the Salzburg wunderkind: the distinctive Kegelstatt Trio and the duo KV423. […] Mönkemeyer plays the duo with an almost giddy freshness, alongside violinist Julia Fischer, who in spite of her fame retains a very individual and tender tone quality. For the trio he is joined by the experienced clarinettist Sabine Meyer and the pianist William Youn, whose youthful creative exuberance belies his sensitivity. One can hear that for these ‚friends‘, chamber music is more than bread and butter. It is an adventure playground of freedom from the pressure of life as a soloist. With this young troop, Mozart is in the best of hands.“
Aachener Zeitung | April 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„Nils Mönkemeyer, Germany’s best-known violist, has always found solutions to compensate for the lack of original literature for his instrument. Likewise, on his new disk, he skilfully combines originals with arrangements, and invites outstanding musical friends to join him.“
Hessische Allgemeine | April 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„Mönkemeyer is the violist’s best ambassador“
Schwäbische Zeitung | March 2016 | Concert in Lindau

 

„Mönkemeyer not only found such wonderfully warm and intimate sounds for the dreamy hero of this sequence – so much so that you suspect Berlioz might have written it all just for him – but he also physically embodies the hero of the work.“
Hamburger Abendblatt | March 2016 | Concert with the Hamburg Philharmonic, Berlioz Harold in Italy

 

„With relish, he lets himself drift, smiles at members of the ensemble, sways. Then he leaps resolutely into the saddle, merges with the body of sound, unleashes his incredible energy. […] Each gesture is genuine, intended only for the audience, making each individual feel a part of the creative process.“
Berliner Morgenpost | March 2016 | Concert with the Berliner Barock Solisten under Gottfried von der Goltz, Berlin Philharmonic

 

„Mozart’s works are not only rendered to perfection, but are also ‚played‘ in the true sense of the word, and this is best achieved together with friends.“
Crescendo | March-April 2016 | Review Mozart with Friends CD

 

„Nils Mönkemeyer is undoubtedly the most remarkable violist of his generation, even of his time, and in William Youn he has found a duo partner entirely his equal.“
Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung | February 2016 | Review Brahms CD

 

„The sonatas are fascinating in their fluctuation between power and poetry, both elements construed with intense tone and fused into an exciting whole. Virtuosic Mönkemeyer comes up trumps in the dances, his lavish viola sound enveloped in an almost orchestral richness by the piano and the Signum Quartet.“
Münchner Merkur | January 2016 | Review Brahms CD

 

„The overall concept is just right in this Brahms homage by Nils Mönkemeyer.“
Saarbrücker Zeitung | January 2016 | Review Brahms CD

 

„The gentle power of the viola. […] Eloquent melancholy: two late sonatas of Johannes Brahms were turned into a real event.“
Süddeutsche Zeitung | January 2016 | Concert in Munich with William Youn

 

„Uncompromising intensity, touching beauty: this is how to make not only wonderful music with the finest viola tone and filigree touch, but to really tell a story. The approach doesn’t seem contrived or mannered for even a second. Mönkemeyer and Youn don’t do anything which isn’t derived from the score.“
BR-KLASSIK | December 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„The exceptional German violist Nils Mönkemeyer approaches the two sonatas with masterful serenity, championing tonal finesse and the multifarious colours of his fine viola sound. […] Even in the wildest tumult he doesn’t need to add to the drama, leaving it instead to his partner, Korean pianist William Youn, who is a strong match in terms of sound, giving the viola space to breathe. It is marvellous how the two artists draw out and shape the folkloric and dance elements, with verve and a streak of boyish drive, but never in an exaggerated manner. There is nothing extreme about these interpretations, everything is just successfully accomplished with superior command.“
Musik & Theater | November/December 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„To brush off the years of dust and show Brahms’s folk style in its original freshness: that was the intention of violist Nils Mönkemeyer and pianist William Youn on their new CD of the two Op.120 sonatas and diverse arrangements of the Hungarian Dances. Brahms may often be rendered too broad and solemn; yet these musicians set out to purge it, and in doing so become a mouthpiece for the composer himself.“
ORF Ö1 | November 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„When playing the composer’s own transcription for viola and piano of the two late clarinet sonatas, in perfect consensus with his keen-eared piano partner William Youn, he has an enormous palette of nuances and gradations at his command. […] The infinite tenderness with which the two musicians ease into the melancholy coda of the F minor opening movement will not be quickly forgotten. How they love their Brahms!“
Basler Zeitung | October 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„These two musicians complement one another exquisitely. In places, it even seems as if their instruments melt into one. […] Their surges of ardour are equally as convincing as their yearning reflections. Mönkemeyer savours with flair the Brahms of the Hungarian Dances in exciting arrangements with string quartet and even for piano sextet.“ (5/5 stars)
Concerti | October 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„For this year’s focus, the festival had asked Nils Mönkemeyer, viola soloist and professor at the Munich Hochschule für Musik und Theater, to take up the reins as artistic director. Mönkemeyer was a near-universal presence throughout the weekend: when not performing or discussing the music on stage, he could be seen rushing around giving interviews, signing CDs or chatting with festival guests. […]Mönkemeyer said his aim with the festival was ‚to show what I’m doing, what the viola can do‘. As a showcase for the instrument, it was an innovative and rewarding occasion that effectively trod the boundary between instruction and entertainment.“
The Strad | October 2015 | 360° Viola, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

 

„Mönkemeyer – a star – really lives up to his reputation. His Brahms is fresh and unpretentious, removing him from the somewhat dusty shrine of German composers. You could call it an exciting encounter, one of great and profound beauty.“
Mitteldeutsche Zeitung | September 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„There are also a number of arrangements of the Hungarian Dances to be heard, some with piano accompaniment, some with the Signum Quartet. These sound marvellous too, so much so that one doesn’t miss the original version in the slightest. It’s a real tonic!“
Klassik heute | September 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„Together with pianist William Youn, a chamber music comes forth which leaves simply nothing to be desired.“
Pizzicato | September 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„Jamboree. Violist Nils Mönkemeyer delights his audience with Spanish baroque music. […] Another of Mönkemeyer’s distinctions is that he doesn’t just rely on virtuosic showpieces, he roots in the archives for unknown works, which he brings back to life with an awareness of form and a relish for music-making.“
Stuttgarter Zeitung | September 2015 | Musikfest Stuttgart

 

„Wild and wonderful!“
Reutlinger General-Anzeiger | September 2015 | Musikfest Stuttgart

 

„This man can sing on his instrument.“
Schweizer Radio SRF2 Kultur | September 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„In an orchestra, the viola often plays the ungrateful middle voice, but in the hands of Nils Mönkemeyer it flourishes.“
Nürnberger Zeitung | September 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„The young Nils Mönkemeyer, viola maestro, demonstrates what it is to showcase the inventiveness of late Brahms with relish for its variety of perspectives; not in a trite manner, but with maximum colour. In both sonatas, together with his fantastically clear piano partner William Youn, Nils Mönkemeyer reveals a Brahms who is dramatic, rebellious and aggressive, strong and powerfully resonant. With Mönkemeyer’s tonal and rhythmic suppleness, the F minor sonata becomes a wild, unruly work, soaring from darkness into light – in the Finale even into a truly elegant ease. The musicians do not sell out to cheap lyricism in the E major sonata, but give shape to its multiformity, give attention to its deep shadows and sudden stops, and abandon themselves to its cantabile swing with wiry verve.“
Süddeutsche Zeitung | September 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„In their new album, Nils Mönkemeyer, William Youn and the Signum Quartet have struck exactly the right balance between pure exuberance and thoughtful melancholy.“
rbb Kulturradio | August 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„… the rich and wonderfully smooth Mönkemeyer sound…“
SWR2 | August 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„In the gifted hands of Mönkemeyer, these chamber music gems reveal all their magic. The works have rarely been heard with so much clarity and eloquence, nor with so much vulnerability and fragility. This excellent CD shows Brahms at his best. Bravo!“
Südwestpresse | August 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„The German viola star plays four of the Hungarian Dances, with immense wit and unashamedly folksy musicianship.“
Aachener Zeitung | August 2015 | Review Brahms CD

 

„…with perfect lightness and clarity.“
Kieler Nachrichten | July 2015 | Schleswig Holstein Music Festival

 

„Sound Voyage. […] In this way, he gives just as little credence to a division between serious & popular music, as he does to a partition between folk and classical music. He playfully discards soloistic clichés… His programme becomes a personal matter, an affair of the heart.“
Bonner General-Anzeiger | June 2015 | Concert Barroco Español

 

„… Mönkemeyer draws the distorted folk style from his viola with great intensity, displaying a keen sensitivity for ensemble and immense virtuosity, down to the most delicate harmonic.“
Rheinische Post | February 2015 | Concert in Düsseldorf (Luciano Berio: Voci for viola and 2 instrumental ensembles)

 

„… most engagingly, happily bringing out this outgoing music’s close relationship with Spanish folklore.“
The Strad | January 2015 | Review Barroco Español CD