Schmidt, Niklas, cello
The cellist Niklas Schmidt first studied in Hamburg and later in Cologne and has been a regular guest at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Gstaad (Switzerland).
In 1980, he founded the Trio Fontenay together with violinist Michael Mücke and pianist Wolf Harden. He has recorded almost the entire literature for this genre with the trio for the record companies Teldec, EMI, und Philips; most of the recordings received national and international awards, for example the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1994 for the complete recording of the Beethoven trios and the Diapason d’Or.
Trio Fontenay has made guest appearances in the most important concert halls of the world, among others in Carnegie Hall in New York, Salle Gaveau in Paris, Wigmore Hall, Queen Elisabeth Hall and Royal Festival Hall in London, and in the Herkulessaal in Munich; it has performed at international festivals such as the Salzburg Festival, the Festival de Montpellier, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival or the Festival de Montréal, as well as at the Kissinger Sommer and the Schubertiade in Austria.
In addition, since its American debut in 1986, the ensemble has been doing one or two large USA tours every year. One special award for the three musicians was also the appointment of the ensemble as Trio en Résidence au Châtelet in Paris. At the end of 1997, Niklas Schmidt left the ensemble as cellist. Since then, he has increasingly performed as soloist, but also in various chamber music formations.
With Menahem Pressler, he played the Arpeggione sonata in Washington D.C. and the Beethoven sonatas in Hamburg.
He performed the Schubert string quintet with members of the Alban Berg, Cleveland, Guarneri, and Juilliard quartets. Recently, he played the two Haydn concertos with orchestra more frequently; in 2013, he made guest appearances in China with Don Quixote by Richard Strauss. Other partners are Nobuko Imai, Michel Lethiec, Ralf Gothóni, the Auryn Quartet and the Fine Arts Quartet, and many more. Niklas Schmidt is regularly invited to renowned music festivals, such as the Casals Festival in Prades, the music festival in Naantali (Finland) or the Music Festival Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The CD “The Singing Cello” with Schubert’s Arpeggione and all of Beethoven’s Variations for Violoncello and Piano with his piano partner John Chen was published in August of 2012.A CD with works by Richard Strauss and Sergei Rachmaninoff followed in 2014, and in the same year, the Suites for Violoncello solo I, III and VI by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Prof. Schmidt has been teaching chamber music and violoncello at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg since 1987. He is also regularly invited to classes around the world, among others in Paris, Helsinki, Nice, Montréal, New York, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Niklas Schmidt has been a juror at the international competitions in Hamburg, Melbourne, Reggio Emiglia (Borciani), and Vienna.
Since 1999, Niklas Schmidt has been directing the renowned Hamburg chamber music series Fontenay Classics, in which leading ensembles and soloists worldwide perform. After a Schubertiade in 2011, a Brahmsiade in 2013, and another Schubertiade in 2014, the first Mendelssohn Festival IMF will take place in this context in 2015. In addition, he is the director of the International Mendelssohn Summer School Festival in Hamburg and of the International Chamber Music Competition Hamburg ICMC. In 2010, he founded his own label under the name of Fontenay Classics International FCI, which has already published nine CDs.
Niklas Schmidt plays on a Rogeri cello (Brescia) from the year 1700.