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Classical - Released April 8, 2016 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik

Classical - Released January 4, 2013 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - 4 étoiles Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
France's Quatuor Ebène has been known for its classical-pop fusion experiments (they dislike the term "crossover"). Here they stick with classical string quartet pieces, but their style and choice of music is still plenty unusual. The chief repertory attraction here is Fanny Mendelssohn's String Quartet in E flat major, composed in 1834. This work, the composer's only string quartet, is not usually included in comparisons of music by Felix Mendelssohn and his older sister, but it deserves to be better known. It is clearly something of an exercise in mastering Beethoven's style -- hear the fugal central section of the second-movement Allegretto (track 6), for example, whose clear inspiration is the Scherzo of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 -- but in spite of this has a strong undercurrent of suppressed emotion. The work opens in harmonic ambiguity that is reflected in small moments of tension throughout. The work's appeal resides in that duality of exercise and strong feeling, and the Quatuor Ebène's high-intensity performance brings it out effectively. The work is short, but here it has a rather explosive quality. In the two quartets by Felix Mendelssohn you may find the quartet either bracingly tough or rather overbearing, but there are moments where both camps will agree: hear the live-wire tension in the opening explosion of the finale of the String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80. This is a must-have for those interested in Fanny Mendelssohn, and it's well worth sampling and considering for general string quartet listeners. © TiVo

Classical - Released September 5, 2011 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
Since its debut CD of Haydn quartets in 2006, Quatuor Ebène has continued to produce recordings of distinction and outstanding individuality. Between its first CD and this 2011 release of Mozart quartets, the group has demonstrated its versatility with recordings of Bartók, Brahms, the Debussy, Ravel, and Fauré quartets (which won a Gramophone Record of the Year Award), and a crossover album of jazz arrangements of popular songs. The Mozart album, which includes two quartets and a divertimento, offers further evidence of the quartet's considerable gifts. The most striking element in this performance is the variety of textures and colors the players draw from their instruments. Their broad timbral spectrum highlights and gives drama to the contours of the musical journey of each movement. In the opening movement of the Quartet in D minor, K. 421, for instance, the piercing, golden brilliance of the second phrase comes like a lightning bolt after the gauzy, spectral stillness of the first phrase; who needs an orchestra when four players can produce this kind of striking timbral and textural contrast? Another distinguishing mark of the quartet is the sensitivity of the phrasing. Even when the lower instruments are in a clearly accompanimental role, their lines are shaped with such deft nuance that they would hold a listener's rapt attention even without the featured solo of the first violinist. The members play with exceptional attentiveness to each other and to details of the composer's intentions. Each has gorgeous tone and their blend is seamless. The title of the album, Dissonances, should not frighten away traditionalists; it refers to the C major Quartet, K. 465, the introduction to whose first movement was harmonically daring at the time of its composition, but which is unlikely to sound surprising to 21st century ears. Virgin's sound is clean, open, and detailed. © TiVo