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Classical - Released May 15, 2020 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
The Quatuor Ébène timed this round-the-world Beethoven cycle to coincide with Beethoven's 250th birthday in 2020, beginning a worldwide tour and fortunately completing it before the outbreak of the pandemic in that year. The cycle was recorded in Philadelphia, Vienna, Tokyo, São Paolo, Melbourne, Nairobi, and finally Paris. CD buyers get a combination of travelogue and set of work descriptions, but it's not clear that the performances were influenced in any way by the globetrotting. This is, however, a very strong Beethoven set, with full-blooded performances perhaps unexpected from a group that made its name with French quartet music. Credit, first of all, goes to mastering engineer Fabrice Planchat, who followed the group around the world with a portable studio, recording, according to the ambiguous note, "live and in rehearsal" (there is no audience noise). The sound retains some of its original characteristics, including in an acoustically inferior Alliance Française Auditorium in Nairobi, but is stitched together into a coherent whole. The Quatuor Ébène generally offers high-intensity readings that relax at times into passages of passionate rather than delicate lyricism. In the String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131, the Allegro molto vivace of the second movement may seem to leave no room for the Presto of the fifth, but the group makes it happen. The late quartets as a whole are extremely compelling, with the group catching the odd mixture of comedy and existential dread in the String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135, and delivering a heartfelt "prayer of thanks of one who has recovered to the Godhead" in the slow movement of the String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. An unusual feature among the late quartets is that the String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130, concludes with the Grosse Fuge, Op. 133, the work's original finale, rather than the finale on which Beethoven eventually settled. The early quartets get weighty readings that place them at the forefront of Beethoven's stylistic development rather than in Haydn's orbit; listen to the alternatively lovely and grim "La Malinconia" finale of the String Quartet No. 6 in B flat major, Op. 18. No. 6. Curiously, two of the three Op. 59 "Razumovsky" quartets are placed together on a single disc rather than being evenly distributed, but these too follow the pattern of fast tempos and high-energy readings. It may be that the Quatuor Ébène did not need to travel the globe to accomplish this, but the group's Beethoven cycle compels attention. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 15, 2020 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released May 1, 2020 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released April 24, 2020 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released April 17, 2020 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released April 10, 2020 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released April 3, 2020 | Warner Classics

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Chamber Music - Released September 27, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday with the entire world in 2020, the Carnegie Hall chose the French ensemble the Ébène Quartet to perform Beethoven’s Quatuors in their entirety. Honoured by this prestigious invitation, the four musicians decided to prolong this exceptional moment by playing this globally recognised music around the world, on all five continents in seven concerts between April 2019 and January 2020. The intellectual and emotional strength of Beethoven’s opus remains a force to be reckoned with, a humanist vector carried by the spirit of the Enlightenment. Over the course of this fantastic journey, the Ébène Quartet will record the quatuors in concerts given in Vienna, Philadelphia, Tokyo, São Paulo, Melbourne, Nairobi and Paris, their home ground. A film crew will follow the musicians on their world tour and will thereafter produce a documentary. The first milestone of this Beethoven around the World journey makes up this album, and was recorded in June 2019 in the Mozartsaal of the Vienna Konzerthaus. It contains the first two Razumovsky Quatuors, performed in the very city where they were composed in 1806. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released October 20, 2017 | BR-Klassik

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Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Erato - Warner Classics

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

Booklet
Recording Franz Schubert's String Quintet in C major, D. 956, is a major achievement for most string players, and Quatuor Ebène's performance with cellist Gautier Capuçon on Erato is a high point in their discography. Playing with great transparency and alertness, the quintet delivers a vital performance that captures the rarefied, almost mystical quality of Schubert's late masterpiece while maintaining a sense of urgency and, at times, explosive energy. This is to be expected of a world-class string quartet, and it's probably more than enough effort for a single CD. Yet the program continues with a set of five of Schubert's lieder, sung by baritone Matthias Goerne and accompanied by Quatuor Ebène and double bassist Laurène Durantel, in arrangements by Raphaël Merlin. These versions for voice and strings were conceived in the spirit of the Schubertiades, on the idea that string players likely were in attendance and eager to join Schubert in impromptu music-making. While these transcriptions are speculative, they are certainly enjoyable for their beautiful tone and subdued feeling, and Goerne sings with warmth and expressiveness to match the subtle moods of the arrangements. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 10, 2014 | Erato - Warner Classics

The career of pianist and chamber music specialist Menahem Pressler dates back to the World War II era. He was a member of the Beaux Arts Trio for its entire existence from 1955 to 2008, and apparently he wasn't ready to retire along with the rest of the group. This album was recorded live at the Salle Pleyel in Paris on audio and video in November 2013, just before Pressler's 90th birthday, and it's not only extraordinary for a 90-year-old, it's exciting in absolute terms. The audio CD presents two cornerstones of the Romantic chamber repertory, the Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81, of Dvorák, and the Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667 ("Trout"), of Schubert. Both performances, passionate and hell-for-leather, represent a meeting of the minds between Pressler and the Quatuor Ebène, but what's notable is how often Pressler seems to be directing the proceedings. Sample the slow movement of the Schubert (track 7), where the forward impetus clearly is coming from Pressler. An included DVD covers the same music, some Schubert songs with tenor Christoph Prégardien and some encores presenting the quartet and Pressler solo, plus an affectionate tribute from the audience at the end. There are a few glitches, but not more than other pianists make in true live recordings, and overall it's hard to escape the impression that this is the kind of chamber performance just not heard anymore. The only real complaint is the respiratory distress of what seems an unusually large portion of the audience. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 7, 2014 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Classical - Released April 21, 2014 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released April 21, 2014 | Erato - Warner Classics

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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
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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
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Classical - Released September 5, 2011 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica