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Atsushi Sakaï

Language available : english
Cellist Atsushi Sakai is equally adept in Baroque music, contemporary music, and jazz. He has founded two historically oriented ensembles of his own. Sakai was born in Nagoya, Japan, in 1975. Sakai took cello lessons beginning when he was five years old, continuing after his family moved to the U.S. In 1987, he appeared with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, and the following year, he began a recital career that has continued regularly ever since in Japan, the U.S., and Europe. In his solo recitals, he has often appeared with Christophe Rousset and Marion Martineau, appearing in such prestigious venues as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and Brussels' Queen Elizabeth Hall. Sakai studied cello with Harvey Shapiro in Los Angeles until 1994, moving on to the Conservatoire de Paris. There, he studied with Philippe Muller, and during this period, he also began to pursue what was already a longstanding interest in the early cello and the viola da gamba, taking classes with Christophe Coin. He graduated in 1997 with first prize honors. Sakai quickly found places performing in continuo groups for such leading Baroque chamber music ensembles as Les Talens Lyriques and Le Concert d'Astrée. He often appeared with the Prague Chamber Philharmonic in continuo groups and as a soloist. Sakai founded two ensembles, the viol consort Sit Fast and the Quatuor Cambini-Paris, devoted to performing late 18th century music on period instruments. The latter group recorded Mozart's Six Quartets Dedicated to Haydn for the Ambroisie/Naïve label in 2015. He also plays contemporary music, often performing B.A. Zimmermann's cello sonata on tour and collaborating with composer Bernard Cavanna. Sakai's versatility extends to jazz as well; in 2010, he joined the string quartet Quatuor IXI, which specialized in jazz and improvised music. The group's Temps Suspendus album earned a CHOC award from Jazz Magazine. He has also collaborated with guitarist David Chevallier on experimental improvised music, playing not only the cello but also the viola da gamba. In 2016, Sakai, Rousset, and Martineau released an album of suites by Antoine Forqueray on the Aparte label. Sakai has recorded several more albums for Aparte, including Marin Marais: Pièces de viole, Livre I (2021).
© James Manheim /TiVo
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