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Quatuor Ebène

Friday, March 31, 2017 8 PM Zankel Hall
Beethoven’s string quartets are road maps that chart his development as a composer. His String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 18, No. 6, is a progressive work with an unforgettable final-movement dialogue between melancholy and jolly spirits. The “Serioso” Quartet is true to its nickname; it’s an impassioned work with a tremendous intensity in its stormy struggles, and only finds victory in its final measures. The String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127, has episodes of daring harmonic exploration and a magnificent set of second-movement variations built on a lofty theme.


Quatuor Ebène
·· Pierre Colombet, Violin
·· Gabriel Le Magadure, Violin
·· Adrien Boisseau, Viola
·· Raphaël Merlin, Cello



String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 18, No. 6

String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, "Serioso"

String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Pre-Concert Talk

Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Zankel Hall with the Quatuor Ebène's cellist, Raphaël Merlin, in conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.

This concert is made possible, in part, by The Joan and Ernest Bragin Endowment Fund.

At a Glance

Beethoven’s career is traditionally divided into three style periods—early, middle, and late—and tonight’s program includes one string quartet from each of them. As such, it charts the composer’s evolution from the callow piano virtuoso who took Vienna by storm in the 1790s to the mature artist whose revolutionary conception of music set the pattern for the Romantic era.

In his six Op. 18 string quartets, written between 1798 and 1800, the young Beethoven staked his claim to the title of Haydn’s and Mozart’s successor in the realm of the string quartet. The last of the set, the B-flat–Major Quartet is refreshingly iconoclastic in both form and expression: The hauntingly mercurial finale, with its sharp contrasts of mood, anticipates the language of Beethoven’s late quartets.

A mere decade separates the mostly well-tempered classicism of the Op. 18 quartets from the idiosyncratic and emotionally intense Quartet in F Minor, aptly subtitled “Serioso.” Beethoven’s five late-period quartets pose special challenges, and offer commensurate rewards, for listeners and performers. The Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127—one of three commissioned by Prince Nikolai Golitsïn, the composer’s Russian patron—is remarkably adventurous both formally and tonally, packing a wealth of surprising twists and turns into its “conventional” four-movement format.


Quatuor Ebène

What began in 1999 as a distraction in the university's practice rooms for these four young French musicians has become a trademark of the Quatuor Ebène, and has generated lasting reverberations on the music scene.

After studies with the Ysaÿe Quartet in Paris ...

What began in 1999 as a distraction in the university's practice rooms for these four young French musicians has become a trademark of the Quatuor Ebène, and has generated lasting reverberations on the music scene.

After studies with the Ysaÿe Quartet in Paris and with Gábor Takács-Nagy, Eberhard Feltz, and György Kurtág, the quartet had an unprecedented victory at the ARD International Music Competition in 2004. This marked the beginning of its rise, which has culminated in numerous prizes and awards.

Quatuor Ebène's concerts are marked by a unique élan. With charismatic playing, a fresh approach to tradition, and open engagement with new forms, the ensemble has had success in reaching a wide audience of young listeners. The quartet members also communicate their knowledge in regular master classes at the Paris Conservatoire.

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.

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, ECHO Klassik, BBC Music Magazine Award, and MIDEM Classical Award. The 2010 album Fiction, featuring jazz arrangements, has further solidified Quatuor Ebène's unique position in chamber music, as well as the 2014 crossover CD Brazil. In the fall of 2014, Erato released A 90th Birthday Celebration: Live in Paris, a live CD and DVD of the ensemble's birthday celebration concert for Menahem Pressler. The quartet has collaborated with Philippe Jaroussky on the CD Green: Melodies françaises on Poems by Paul Verlaine, which won the 2016 BBC Music Magazine Award, and released a CD of Schubert lieder with Matthias Goerne and the composer's String Quintet with cellist Gautier Capuçon.

In the 2016-2017 season, the quartet's concerts include performances at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and Philharmonie Luxembourg, as well as at the Salzburger Festspiele and the Menuhin Festival Gstaad.

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