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Ebène Quartet returns with US tour, new Mozart album, & live DVD

France’s dynamic young Ebène Quartet, whose unique ability to switch seamlessly from core classical repertoire to jazz and pop music has made it one of classical music’s most talked-about ensembles, returns to the U.S. in the 2011-12 season with live performances and master classes, and on two new recordings from Virgin Classics. Fall performances in Pasadena, CA (Oct 2) and Portland, OR (Oct 3 & 4), master classes at the Colburn School in Los Angeles (Oct 5–13), and a concert with the Colburn Chamber Music Society (Oct 9) will coincide with the release on September 27 of Dissonances, an all-Mozart album featuring two of the composer’s “Haydn” Quartets (K. 421 and K. 465, “Dissonance”) and the Divertimento (K. 138), as well as Quatuor Ebène: Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère, a new DVD filmed at one of Paris’s most famous music halls. The Ebène will return to the U.S. in March for performances across the country and Canada beginning in San Diego (March 2), and including stops in San Francisco (March 8), New Orleans (March 14), and New York City, where they will make their debut at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (March 18).
The Ebène’s new Mozart recording takes its name from the C-major quartet (K. 465), “Dissonance,” so named because of the strikingly modern harmonies that open the first movement. Also on the album is the String Quartet in D minor (K. 421), the only one of the so-called “Haydn” Quartets – the six quartets Mozart wrote for and dedicated to his friend, mentor, and fellow composer, Joseph Haydn – in a minor key. The final movement is a haunting theme and variations that brings to mind the otherworldly feeling of Schubert’s late works.
The program on Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère was drawn from the Ebène’s previous audio release, Fiction, which features improvisations and arrangements of themes from film soundtracks, jazz standards, and rock classics. Among the highlights of Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère are Wayne Shorter’s Footprints, Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango, Bruce Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia, and the quartet’s much talked-about spin on Misirlou, a tune made famous by surf guitarist Dick Dale and by its inclusion in the film Pulp Fiction. Two special guests join the Ebène for the program: the dazzling French soprano Natalie Dessay, who sings Harold Arlen’s Over the Rainbow, and jazz singer Stacey Kent, who sings Jobim’s Corcovado. The complete program is listed below.
The New York Times has described the Ebène as “a string quartet that can easily morph into a jazz band,” and critic Steve Smith gave high marks to performance of selections from Fiction at WQXR’s Greene Space in New York in April:
“The group’s solid grounding in jazz came through in its nuanced arrangements – dreamy small-combo drift for Miles Davis’s ‘All Blues’; big-band swagger in a racing account of Eden Ahbez’s ‘Nature Boy’ – and in its confident, idiomatic improvisations. Still further afield, an Ebène arrangement of the Dick Dale surf-rock anthem ‘Misirlou’ teased out the song’s piquant Mediterranean roots; a rendition of Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Libertango’ did uncommon justice to the danger and libido in the original. When the Ebène members sang in elegantly harmonized French to start ‘Some Day My Prince Will Come,’ you grew convinced that there was nothing they couldn’t do.”
In June, NPR Music named Fiction one of the top 25 albums for the first half of 2011, calling the performances, “some of the most stunningly agile string playing of recent times” and “a ridiculous amount of fun.”
Mozart’s “Dissonance” Quartet and music from Fiction will be featured on the Ebène’s concert programs this season in North America. They will also perform quartets by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Ravel, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky on tour (programs and cities follow).
The Ebène Quartet rose to international prominence when their debut recording for Virgin Classics, featuring quartets by Debussy, Ravel, and Fauré, won Gramophone’s coveted Recording of the Year (2009). Gramophone’s editor enthused,
“What a sensational disc! At a time when there is a multitude of crack new quartets, Quatuor Ebène here stake their claim to join the top rank with riveting playing that encompasses an almost otherworldly sound range. The Debussy especially left me reeling.”
A video of the Ebène playing Misirlou at the Verbier Festival is available here, and an excerpt of Stacey Kent singing Corcovado with the Ebène at the Folies Bergère is available here.
Mozart: Dissonances
String Quartets in D minor (K. 421) and C (K. 465), “Dissonance”
Divertimento in F (K. 138)
CD and downloads available September 27 from Virgin Classics
Quatuor Ebène: Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère
Special guests Natalie Dessay, Stacey Kent, and Jim Tomlinson
DVD available September 27 from Virgin Classics
1.   Footprints
2.   Nature Boy
3.   Misirlou
4.   Unrequited
5.   Calling You
6.   Corcovado with Stacey Kent
7.   All Blues / So What
8.   Somewhere Over the Rainbow with Natalie Dessay
9.   Libertango
10. Nothing Personal
11. 7-29-4 The Day Of
12. Streets of Philadelphia
Ebène Quartet:  2011-12 U.S. engagements
October 2, 2011
Coleman Concerts
Pasadena, CA
Mozart, Borodin, Brahms
October 3, 2011
Lincoln Performance Hall
Portland, OR
Debussy, Ravel
October 4, 2011
Lincoln Performance Hall
Portland, OR
Mozart, Borodin, Brahms
October 5 – 13, 2011
Colburn School
Los Angeles, CA
Master Classes
October 9, 2011
Colburn School
Los Angeles, CA
Concert with Colburn Chamber Music Society
Martinu: La Revue de Cuisine
Debussy: Quartet in G minor
Schoenberg: Verklaerte Nacht Op. 4
March 2, 2012
UC San Diego
San Diego, CA
Mozart: String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Borodin:  String Quartet No. 2
Mendelssohn:  String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80
March 3, 2012
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Costa Mesa, CA
Mozart:  String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Borodin:  String Quartet No. 2
Mendelssohn:  String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80
March 4, 2012
Eugene, OR
Mozart:  String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Schubert:  Quartet in A minor, Op. 29, No. 1, D. 804, “Rosamunde”
Tchaikovsky:  Quartet in D Major, Op. 11, “Accordion”
March 8, 2012
Herbst Theater
San Francisco, CA
Mozart:  String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Borodin:  String Quartet No. 2
Ravel:  String Quartet in F major
March 10 – 12, 2012
Concerts in Canada
March 14, 2012
New Orleans Friends of Music
New Orleans, LA
Mozart:  String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Borodin:  String Quartet No. 2
Jazz improvisations
March 18, 2012
Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall debut)
New York, NY
Jazz improvisations
Mozart:  String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Beethoven:  String Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131
For further information:
Visit EMI Classics’ YouTube channel for video previews of many of its new and recent releases:
Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group: (212) 625-2038, [email protected]
Andrew Ousley, EMI Classics: (212) 786-8607, [email protected]

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