Raphaël Pichon


"From the virtuoso opening, we admire in the conductor from Versailles notable precision beaten and attention of instrumental timbres. His tempi breathe transparency and the dramatic impulse he inspires."

Emmanuel Andrieu, ClassiqueInfo

"Raphaël Pichon's dynamic beat highlights the harmonic and rhythmic inventiveness of the score, with a beautiful and constant consistency."

Gilles Charlassier, ConcertClassic

"The Pygmalion orchestra and chorus led by Raphaël Pichon, obviously passionate, were excellent from start to finish."

Marie-Aude Roux, Le Monde

"Given the work's historical importance, this third recording is also the occasion for Raphaël Pichon to show the extent of his maturity, placing him in the front rank of today's young conductors."


"The ensemble Pygmalion under the direction of Raphael Pichon once again apply their magic to the music...There is a constant underlying sense of song and joy in their delivery."

Jean-Yves Duperron, Classical Music Sentinel

Born in 1984, the charismatic French baroque conductor Raphaël Pichon sang as a child with the Maîtrise des Petits Chanteurs de Versailles and studied violin and piano at the Conservatoire de Versailles. Attracted rapidly by singing as a counter-tenor and conducting, he completed his studies at the CNSMDP and CNR of Paris, with Kenneth Weiss and Howard Crook, among others. He studied conducting with Pierre Cao, with further training in orchestral conducting by Michel-Marc Gervais and Boris Tevlin.

Raphaël Pichon’s varied experiences led to invitations to sing with the ensembles of Jordi Savall, Gustav Leonhardt, Ton Koopman, Gabriel Garrido, Vincent Dumestre and Laurence Equilbey. As a member of the Les Cris de Paris, Raphaël Pichon developed an attachment to contemporary repertoire, collaborating with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, 2e2m, TM+ and Linéa. His opera appearances include the role of Spirit Dido and Aeneas, Bussiride Ercole Amante, Nutrice Giuditta, and a part in the Madrigaux production for the Académie du Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.

Soon after completing his formal education, Raphaël founded the chamber choir OTrente, specializing in the romantic and contemporary répertoire. Additionally, he founded a period instrument orchestra specializing in classical and romantic repertoires starting with Mozart’s C Minor Mass.

In 2005, M. Pichon founded Ensemble Pygmalion, orchestra and choir of young professionals dedicated to the repertoire for period instruments (supported by the Orange Foundation and the Ministry of Culture), with whom he recorded the complete Bach short Masses, released on Alpha in 2008, which received the Diapason d’or—the critic’s choice recording of the year—the Orphée d’or for the best sacred music recording of 2008 and an Editor’s Choice award from Gramophone.

His most recent CD, Missa 1733, has just received the highest award from Télérama. Upcoming releases include a live recording of his last performance of Dardanus at Versailles’ Royal Opera. He also performed Bach’s Trauermusik BWV 244a, dedicated to Prince Leopold of Köthen.       

With Ensemble Pygmalion, M. Pichon has appeared festivals and concerts series of renown in France and abroad: Festivals of la Chaise-Dieu, Beaune, Bordeaux, Versailles, Rouen and Besançon’s Operas, Ambronay, Saintes, Arques-la-bataille, Nantes’ Folle Journée, Brussels’ Bozar, and Musikfest Bremen.         

Past conducting appearances of note include Gassmann’s Opera Seria in Nantes in 2010; in Season 2011/12, he conducted a staged version of Bach’s St John’s Passion with the Holland Baroque Society and the Nationale Reisopera, a Christmas Oratorio with the Stavanger’s Symfonieorkester, a Brahms and Bruckner a cappella programme for Nantes’ Folle Journée and la Roque d’Anthéron, and a series of Rameau operas for the Festival of Beaune, Versailles and Opéra de Bordeaux. 

In 2013, he won public and critical praise for Hippolyte et Aricie presented at Versailles.

Future engagements include Castor et Pollux, Bach’s St John’s Passion and B Minor Mass, a new production by Katie Mitchell at Festival d’Aix-en-Provence as well as a variety of motets and masses at Opéra de Bordeaux, Opéra Comique, Versailles, Opéra de Paris, Salle Pleyel, the Festivals of Beaune, La Chaise-Dieu, Oslo and St Denis, and at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, among others.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

Stravaganza D’amore: The Birth of Opera at the Medici Court

CD Review, September 2017

The performances are highly polished, chorus and ensemble producing a liberally embellished sound while the dozen soloists give fine and well-balanced contributions. Pichon’s approach is certainly creative and, though ultimately it’s something of a  hodge-podge of genres and periods, it’s all very stylishly done.

BBC Music Magazine, Kate Bolton-Porciatta, September 2017

Praise here for a complete package – performance and presentation alike – that offers a thrilling and fascinating insight into the early days of opera.

Gramaphone Magazine, Martin Cullingford, October 2017

By grouping them into six imaginary intermedi defined by themes…Raphael Pichon has ingeniously encouraged structured listening across composers and genres of a kind that rarely occurs on record; the results are fascinating and, at times, revelatory.

Gramaphone Magazine, Iain Fenlon, October 2017

Pichon and Pygmalion rise to this challenge magnificently. Speeds are finely judged, the sense of vocal and instrumental ensemble is well balanced and there is some impressive solo singing.

Gramaphone Magazine, Iain Fenlon, October 2017

Mozart & The Weber Sisters, Ensemble Pygmalion & Sabine Devieilhe (Erato/Warner Classics)

January 2016

Pichon is something of a rarity too, a singer turned (good) conductor. Throw into the mix Pygmalion, an ensemble of 40 expert instrumentalists who play as one, and you have critical mass.

Washington Post, Charles T. Downey, 5 February 2016

There is nothing here not to like, and that includes the lively and sensitive playing of Pygmalion under Raphaël Pichon.

Gramophone September 2016, Winner of Recital Category

A magical concept, fastidious programming and superlative execution converge effortlessly in this profoundly satisfying recital...Sweet and tactile instrumental accompaniments contribute memorably to a project oozing sensuality, drama, imagination and wit.

Gramophone December 2016, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood (One of the Critics’ Choice 2016 CDs)

Dardanus, Ensemble Pygmalion (DVD Harmonia Mundi)

September 2016

Pygmalion provides vigorous and expert orchestral accompaniment, and Raphaël Pichon’s assured direction secures superb coordination with the soloists and the firmly focused chorus.

BBC Music Magazine December 2016, **** Jan Smaczny

Musically there is much to praise. Pichon’s direction is more convincing than it has sometimes been in Rameau and he makes much of the composer’s intoxicating brew of vitality, elegance and sensuality.

Opera Magazine December 2016, Brian Robins

Surrender to this gorgeous staging from Bordeaux: you will be humming ‘Paix favourable’ for a week.

Gramophone, Richard Lawrence (A Critics’ Choice 2016)

Castor et Pollux, Ensemble Pygmalion (Harmonia Mundi)

May 2015

The chorus and orchestra under Raphael Pichon are first-rate... All in all this is a splendid achievement...

Richard Lawrence, Gramophone July 2015

Raphaël Pichon conducts the Ensemble Pygmalion, and it’s salutary to hear an idiomatic performance of Baroque piece that doesn’t attack the music with a slew of exaggerations but lets it unfold naturally. The orchestra and chorus are excellent...

Opera Now, July 2015

The new recording is excellent in some respects … With the exception of the odd prosaic lapse, Pichon’s direction captures admirably both the lyrical fragility of the score and its moments of dramatic intensity, in the process drawing outstanding playing and singing from his Pygmalion forces.

Brian Robins, Opera, September 2015

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