Performance Sunday, March 18, 2012 | 7:30 PM

Ebène Quartet

Zankel Hall
While the group’s name means ebony, reflecting what violinist Gabriel Le Magadure calls “a love and respect for great African American jazz musicians,” the Ebène Quartet applies passionate intensity to all types of music. On this program, hear this stunning group perform jazz improvisations, but also music by Mozart and Beethoven.


  • Ebène Quartet
    ·· Pierre Colombet, Violin
    ·· Gabriel Le Magadure, Violin
    ·· Mathieu Herzog, Viola
    ·· Raphaël Merlin, Cello


  • MOZART String Quartet in D Minor, K. 421
  • BEETHOVEN String Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131
  • Jazz and Pop Improvisations


  • Ebène Quartet

    Pierre Colombet, Violin
    Gabriel Le Magadure, Violin
    Mathieu Herzog, Viola
    Raphaël Merlin, Cello


    Distinguished by its youth, open-mindedness, and versatility, France's Ebène Quartet has had a meteoric rise to the top. Now among the world's most sought-after quartets, the Ebène Quartet made its US debut tour in March 2009 to widespread critical acclaim. The tour featured performances in Boston, Seattle, and Washington, DC, as well as at Carnegie Hall. In October 2009, the Ebène Quartet won Recording of the Year at the Gramophone Awards for its CD of Debussy, Ravel, and Fauré string quartets, marking only the fourth time that a chamber ensemble has won this prestigious prize. This same recording was named Gramophone's December 2008 Editor's Choice, and received five-star ratings from both BBC Music Magazine and London's Sunday Times.

    As part of its multiyear deal with Virgin Classics, the Ebène Quartet released a Brahms CD in the fall of 2009, and released a jazz and crossover CD, Fiction,in the fall of 2010. This improvisatory recording with the group known in France as "The Other Ebène" featured collaborators of international stature, including soprano Natalie Dessay.

    Considered one of the finest quartets of its generation, the Ebène Quartet was named BBC Music Magazine's 2009 Newcomer of the Year, and was also nominated for the renowned Les Victoires de la Musique Classique Chamber Music Ensemble of the Year. In June 2006, the quartet was admitted to the esteemed BBC New Generation Artists Scheme, and in 2004 was awarded first prize at the prestigious ARD Competition in Munich. In 2005, the Ebène Quartet won the Forberg-Schneider Foundation's Belmont Prize; the organization has since generously arranged to have the quartet play four unique Italian instruments loaned by private owners.

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Misirlou (from Pulp Fiction)
Ebène Quartet

At a Glance

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART  String Quartet in D Minor, K. 421

The masterful D-Minor String Quartet is one of the six “Haydn” Quartets that Mozart wrote between 1782 and 1785, and dedicated to his beloved mentor. The music looks both backward and forward, paying homage to Haydn’s Classical poise and wit even as it anticipates the more overtly dramatic string quartets of Beethoven and Schubert.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  String Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131

Beethoven himself judged Op. 131 to be the greatest of his 16 quartets. Although much has been written about its unconventional seven-part structure and obscure tonal relationships, the music’s robust lyricism and emotional intensity have never failed to draw listeners into its unforgettable sound world. One of the work’s early admirers was Franz Schubert, who is said to have requested a performance on his deathbed.

Reimagined Jazz and Pop Standards

Ever since their student days in Paris, the members of the Ebène Quartet have cultivated a dual persona as both a classical string quartet and a jazz combo. The spirit of spontaneity that characterizes their performances of the classical repertory is unleashed in the free-wheeling, improvisatory arrangements of jazz and pop standards that they frequently include on their programs.

Program Notes


The Ebène Quartet discusses its creation, influences, Beethoven, chamber music, and more.

This performance is part of Chamber Sessions II.