April 05, 2016

The Ebène Quartet record Schubert with Matthias Goerne and Gautier Capuçon

The new album features cellist Raphaël Merlin's own breathtaking arrangements of Schubert lieder.
"Without a shadow of doubt the Schubert Quintet is a key work, the ultimate masterpiece and one which achieves a perfect balance: challenging yet not intimidating, ineffable yet accessible, awe-inspiring yet energising, it is a unique and priceless piece, a workof genius.
"First and foremost, it brings people together (we had the good fortune to play it with 20 or so cellists and to each one of you dear colleagues involved in the making of this recording we send our thanks. As for our dear friend Gautier Capuçon, we are forever grateful for his energy, his ability to listen and his delightfully good-natured friendship)!
"In addition, it is a favourite in the concert halls. It is impossible to hear too much of it. It works its magic in each one of us and success is guaranteed from the very first moment we hear it. It is clearly a monumental achievement. What work could be better than this five-headed beast as the crowning glory of a festival, for example, or a season, just as it is already the crowning glory of all the chamber music of Vienna's leading school? It tirelessly produces new surprises in incredible profusion, unusual harmonies and sudden changes of direction but also heavenly melodious expanses: a journey full of incident yet at the same time a long and tranquil river…
"To sum up, it is a quintet reflecting both real life and dreams, thesacred and the profane, joy and mourning, revelry in the open airand monks walking to prayer through the cloisters, jubilation inthe tavern and testament of the soul. There is the seductive appeal of the two cellos and the unlikely symmetry that flows from them,along with violin and cello duos, angelic melodies seeking to outdoeach other in grace and generosity under the gaze of the linesman viola player.
"If Beethoven wrote for the entire cosmos in capital letters, Schubert was the master of intimate salon music. And in this quintet, written during the months left to Schubert after the death of Beethoven, the infinitely great unites and dialogues with the infinitely small, as they mutually renew each other.
"The essence of Schubert, as Brigitte François-Sappey quite rightly says, is song, something which he quite simply revolutionised while bel canto was also experiencing revolution onthe other side of the Alps. So the idea of adapting Lieder for voice and strings occurred to us quite naturally, following on from the tacit suggestion of Schubert himself. Take, for example, the way he used Der Tod und das Mädchen and Die Götter Griechenlands to produce two of the movements from his greatest quartets.
The balance is still perfect: the recording ends with Der liebliche Stern, Beloved Star, which recalls Hugo and his "earthworm in love with a star". That is what all of us are in the face of so much beauty.
"It was a huge privilege for us to have Matthias Goerne sing these arrangements. He is a singer who can walk on water, water made all the richer by the discreetly miraculous presence of double bassist Laurène Durantel. Dear Laurène, dear Matthias, dear Gautier, your presence on this recording is a gift which exceeds all we could have hoped for."
-The Ebène Quartet
The new Ebène Quartet album - Schubert - will be released on 8 April.