© Julien Mignot
Pierre Colombet, violin
Gabriel Le Magadure, violin
Adrien Boisseau, viola
Raphaël Merlin, cello
"A string quartet that can easily morph into a jazz band," wrote the New York Times after a 2009 performance by the Quatuor Ebène. The ensemble opened with Debussy and Haydn and then improvised on a film music theme - with exactly the same enthusiasm and passion.
What began in 1999 as a distraction in the university’s practice rooms for the four young French musicians has become a trademark of the Quatuor Ebène, and has generated lasting reverberations in the music scene. The four breathe new life into chamber music through their consistently direct, open-minded perspective on the works. Regardless of the genre, they approach the music with humility and respect. They change styles with gusto, and yet remain themselves: with all the passion that they experience for each piece, and which they bring to the stage and to their audiences directly and authentically.
There is no single word that describes their style: they’ve created their own. Their traditional repertoire does not suffer from their engagement with other genres; rather, their free association with diverse styles brings a productive excitement to their music. From the beginning, the complexity of their oeuvre has been greeted enthusiastically by audiences and critics.
After studies with the Quatuor Ysaÿe in Paris and with Gábor Takács, Eberhard Feltz and György Kurtág, the quartet had an unprecedented victory at the ARD Music Competition 2004. This marked the beginning of their rise, which has culminated in numerous prizes and awards.
The Quatuor Ebène’s concerts are marked by a special élan. With their charismatic playing, their fresh approach to tradition and their open engagement with new forms, the musicians have been successful in reaching a wide audience of young listeners; they communicate their knowledge in regular master classes at the Conservatoire Paris.
In 2005, the ensemble won the Belmont Prize of the Forberg-Schneider Foundation. Since then, the Foundation has worked closely with the musicians, making it possible for them – since 2009 – to play priceless old instruments from private collections.
The Quatuor Ebène’s CDs, featuring recordings of music by Haydn, Bartók, Debussy, Fauré, Mozart and the Mendelssohn siblings have won numerous awards, including the Gramophone Award, the ECHO Klassik, the BBC Music Magazine Award and the Midem Classic Award. Their 2010 album Fiction with jazz arrangements, has only solidified their unique position in the chamber music scene, as well as their 2014 crossover CD Brazil. In fall 2014, Erato released A 90th Birthday Celebration, a live recording (CD and DVD) of Menahem Pressler's birthday concert in Paris. In 2015/2016 the musicians focused on the genre of the Lied. They collaborated with Philippe Jaroussky for the CD Green (mélodies françaises) which has won the BBC Music Magazine Award 2016 and released a Schubert CD with Lieder, recorded with Matthias Goerne (arrangements for string quartet, baritone and double bass by Raphaël Merlin) and the string quintet with Gautier Capuçon.
The fundamental classical repertoire for string quartet will remain a cornerstone: this season, the Quatuor Ebène will focus on the early and middle period string quartets by Ludwig van Beethoven.
In the 2016/2017 season, the quartet will perform at Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Philharmonie Luxembourg, and Carnegie Hall New York as well as at the Salzburger Festspiele and the Menhuin Festival Gstaad.