Quatuor Ebène with
Richard Héry, drums
A string quartet that can easily morph into a jazz band.
—The New York Times
Quatuor EbEne plays Pulp Fiction—Misirlou
Un jour mon Prince viendra (Someday My Prince Will Come) from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
About This Performance
French chamber ensemble Quatuor Ebène charmed audiences when they debuted last spring with a classical program—they return to introduce “the other Ebène” in a program called Fiction which includes popular music ranging from Springsteen to the Beatles. As the ensemble says, it introduces audiences “…to something new; and equally jazz and pop audiences can discover that classical instruments are capable of different sounds. Our jazz-playing also helps to inform our classical performance. It enables us to look at the score from a different perspective and to see classical music as a kind of improvisation. We like to be as free as possible in our performance and for every concert to be slightly different.”
Rather unusual in today’s world of chamber music, the Quatuor Ebène’s stylistic acrobatics may at first meet defiant ears. Defiant, perhaps, because of the general misuse of the term “crossover”, which so often serves to cover mediocrity and redundancy. And yet, with the Ebènes, whenever they create a new work, it is always with taste and integrity.
Nevertheless, the quartet’s traditional repertoire does not suffer in any way from its love of Jazz. On the contrary, the Ebènes’ tendency to delve into the “other side” of music inspires their work in untangling and giving new life to classical works. During its performance at the Hitzacker summer festival in 2009 for example, the quartet was heard playing a quartet by Haydn with such spontaneity, it gave the impression that this music, over 200 years old, was somehow just composed.
There is, in French ensemble music today, a certain élan, which suits modern chamber music particularly well. This new generation of French musicians, their hearts full of passion for tradition, has been captivating audiences with great success, converting listeners into avid fans of the chamber music genre. The performances are so convincing, the stage presence so charismatic, that one cannot escape the spellbinding magic of these masterpieces.
The Quatuor Ebène has studied extensively with the Ysaye Quartet in Paris as well as with the eminent Gábor Takács, Eberhard Feltz et György Kurtág. Since its dramatic 2004 triumph at the prestigious ARD international competition in Munich, where the quartet was also awarded five additional special prizes, the Ebènes have gone on to win the Forberg-Schneider Foundation’s Belmont Prize in 2005. It has since remained close to the foundation, which has very generously arranged to have the quartet outfitted with several unique Italian instruments, on loan to the quartet members from private owners.
From “promising young ensemble”, the Quatuor Ebène has grown to become one of today’s foremost quartets on the international scene. In 2006 the foursome was specially selected to take part in the BBC’s esteemed “New Generation Artists” scheme and in 2007 became Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award winners. The support of the Borletti-Buitoni Foundation sponsored its first, critically acclaimed live recording of works by Haydn as well as a second CD entirely devoted to works of Bartók.
Since the 2007-2008 season, the quartet has been heard throughout the most prestigious concert halls of Europe, Canada and the United States, including Wigmore Hall London, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Berliner Philharmonie and New York’s Carnegie Hall.
2009 marked the beginning of an especially fruitful collaboration with the Virgin Classics label. The quartet’s Debussy, Ravel and Fauré recording was awarded several prizes, including “Chamber Music Record of the Year” by ECHO-Klassik, the fff Télérama award, the “choc” Monde de la Musique award, and most notably “Recording of the Year” by the prestigious magazine Gramophone. There followed a Brahms CD with the pianist Akiko Yamamoto, which demonstrated once again how at ease the quartet performs in a range of styles.
A Jazz and World Music album, entitled Fiction, was released in Fall 2010. The Ebènes received an Echo Award and nearly hit the top of the charts! At the beginning of 2011–2012 season Virgin Classics released a live DVD of Fiction, recorded at Folies Bergère in Paris. The quartet with its new CD featuring string quartets (KV 421, KV 465) and Divertimento KV 138 of Mozart stays true to its focus on classical music.
Quatuor Ebène has recently begun teaching at the prestigious Colburn in Los Angeles.
Composer and improviser, Richard Héry is contracted as artistic director of Jazz label Composite of the cultural agency Auvergne Music Danse (2004) and as partner of many musicians, including saxophonist Vincent Le Quang (2002), Trio Eric Chappelle groups (1989), the Imperial Alembic (1993), Autrement Dit (2003), Aligot Elements (1999)…Since 2005, projects with the Ébène Quartet, where Jazz improvisation rubs classical writing, reveal his very subtle drumming and counterpoints. In parallel to the battery, he practices much traditional percussion such as the Indian tabla, the udus and Tarams (percussion in earthenware), bass clarinet, and a multitude of instruments of his design. He has a passion for building instruments of various materials, especially clay with the artist Jean Vincent and the association Ecarts (1998). For 15 years, he developed a perpetual quest for unusual sounds and accessories, as well as research techniques and game very personal. Through this, he gives an extra dimension to any musical projects in which he participates. In 2002, he contributed to the sound staging of the Museum of the Col du Béal, in the Natural Park of Livradois Forez. Open to the performing arts, he joined the Company Fol A Pik in 2003, under the direction of Christopher Egrot, with whom, in 2007, he prepared the solo show Sandy Road-Chemin de sable. It intervenes in the Company Juste Pour 7 Fois (2006) as a sound musician and inventor of MIDI sounds, creating a realistic game between two dancers and acomputer. It also assists the actor Philippe Malassagne from the Company Hooly Gooly over public readings.
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