Pierre Colombet, violin
Gabriel Le Magadure, violin
Marie Chilemme, viola
Raphaël Merlin, cello
“We need the audience to inspire us.”
Raphael Merlin said in an interview for the NZZ in spring 2020, this was one of the central ideas of their “Beethoven around the world” project. Between May 2019 and January 2020, the quartet recorded all 16 of Beethoven’s string quartets as part of a worldwide project on six continents. With this recording, the four musicians are celebrating their 20th anniversary, continuing the recording with performances of the complete cycle in major European venues such as the Philharmonie in Paris and the Alte Oper in Frankfurt. Invitations from New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Verbier Festival and the Vienna Konzerthaus were also on the programme.
After studies with the Ysaÿe Quartet in Paris and with Gábor Takács, Eberhard Feltz and György Kurtág, their unprecedented and outstanding success at the ARD Competition in 2004 initiated the rise of the Ebene Quartet, leading to numerous other prizes and awards. For example, in 2005 the quartet was awarded the Belmont Prize of the Forberg-Schneider Foundation, in 2007 it was a laureate of the Borletti-Buitoni Fund, and in 2019 it was the first ensemble to be honoured with the Frankfurter Musikpreis.
In addition to the traditional repertoire, the quartet also delves into other styles (“A string quartet that can easily morph into a jazz band” New York Times, 2009). What began in 1999 as a distraction in the university rehearsal rooms – improvising on jazz standards and pop songs – has become a trademark of the Ebene Quartet. To date, the quartet has released 3 albums in these genres, Fiction (2010), Brazil (2014) and Eternal Stories (2017). The free approach to different styles creates a tension that benefits all aspects of their artistic work. The richness and depth of their work has been enthusiastically received by audiences and critics alike.
The Ebony Quartet’s albums of Bartók, Beethoven, Debussy, Haydn, Fauré and the Mendelssohn siblings have received numerous awards, including Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine and the Midem Classic Award. In 2015 & 2016, the musicians focused on the theme of “Lied”. They participated in Philippe Jaroussky’s album “Green (French Melodies)” and released a Schubert album with Matthias Goerne (arrangements for string quartet, baritone and double bass by Raphaël Merlin) and the Schubert string quintet with Gautier Capuçon.
Thanks to their charismatic playing, their fresh approach to tradition and their open engagement with new forms, the musicians have succeeded in reaching a large audience of young listeners, while passing on their talent in regular masterclasses at the Convervatoire de Paris.
Instruments & bows
Pierre Colombet plays on two violins: an Antonio Stradivarius violin of 1717 graciously lent by a generous patron through the Beares International Violin Society and a violin by Matteo Goffriller of 1736 generously lent by Gabriele Forberg-Schneider as well as a bow by Charles Tourte (Paris, 19th century) lent by the Forberg-Schneider Foundation
Gabriel Le Magadure plays an Antonio Stradivarius violin from 1727 on loan from the Beares International Violin Society and a bow by Dominique Pecatte (ca. 1845) on loan from the Forberg-Schneider Foundation.
Marie Chilemme plays a viola by Marcellus Hollmayr, Füssen (1625) on loan from the Forberg-Schneider Foundation, previously played by Mathieu Herzog.
Raphaël Merlin plays a cello by Carlo Tononi, Venice (ca. 1720) on loan from Beares International Violin Society