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The first Pasquier Trio was formed in 1927 by violist Pierre Pasquier (Bruno’s father) and his two brothers; chamber music was of great importance to Pierre and is a passion shared by the next generation of Pasquiers, Bruno and Régis, who have followed suit with their New Pasquier Trio (including French-trained cellist Roland Pidoux). Bruno’s education was, naturally, with his father at the Paris Conservatoire where he himself now teaches. His earliest emergence onto the worldwide concert stage was with a string quartet, winning the ARD International Competition in Munich. Like many violists he also gained invaluable experience as an orchestral section leader.

It is in his recorded classical and Romantic repertoire that Pasquier’s French characteristics come to the fore. The Mozart Sinfonia concertante with Régis Pasquier (2002) is as relaxed as one could possibly imagine from brothers performing together. Some may find it saccharine, whilst others might appreciate this comfortable aesthetic agreement of two siblings. The first-movement cadenza deserves special mention in this respect. Pasquier’s Brahms E flat Sonata (2001) has tonal roots in early twentieth-century French string playing: the vibrato is fast and gives a distinctive gloss to a sound that is very different from that of Brahms’s friend Joseph Joachim.

In twentieth-century works Pasquier sounds (perhaps surprisingly) very much at home. From an album recorded in 2000, his Enescu Konzertstück displays a dynamic virtuosity and charisma, whilst a thoughtful evocation of Shostakovich’s valedictory sonata and an almost explosive approach to the Hindemith sonatas are striking. These performances are testament not only to Pasquier’s significant talent, but also to the expansion of viola repertoire in the last century, and its emancipation as a solo instrument.

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