Quatuor Ebène launched into their “Beethoven Across the World” tour final 12 months—giving some 40 live shows throughout 18 nations on all six continents. At the side of their tour, they recorded the entire cycle at seven venues (together with the Perelman Theater!). They return to Philadelphia subsequent month for back-to-back live shows that function one of many Op. 59 quartets simply launched as a part of the mission. We caught up with Raphaël Merlin, their founding cellist, to debate Beethoven’s quartets, their recordings, and what lies forward as they enter their third decade as a quartet.
Erik Petersons: Having carried out and recorded the Beethoven string quartet cycle, how would you characterize the variations between the works from his early, center, and late durations? How do these works reveal Beethoven’s improvement as a composer?
Raphaël Merlin: What distinguishes the totally different durations can roughly be stated in just a few phrases: The Op. 18 quartets carry the classical heritage of Haydn and Mozart. Op. 59, 74, and 95 are the explosive and experimental works, the place each musical parameter is enlarged. This era declares the entire nineteenth century and the forms of Romanticism to comply with. Beethoven’s late interval is so fashionable that it foreshadows the twentieth century in some ways. In distinction to the quartet’s normal situations, the cycle exhibits how rapidly, deeply, and radically the creativity of Beethoven was evolving, most likely much more as a consequence of his deafness.
EP: You recorded all of the Beethoven quartets final 12 months in several venues, together with the Perelman Theater. Why did you choose that corridor and what’s it wish to carry out/document there?
RM: The Perelman has a pleasant and demanding acoustic—a high quality normal which satisfies the recording situations. Deciding the place and the way we’d document the Beethoven cycle, we needed to deliver Beethoven’s music to every continent and to as many various social environments as potential. The purpose was to confront his ideally suited of universalism in our modern world. Philadelphia is the very best reflection of what America was on the time of Beethoven (early industrialization) and what it’s at this time. We additionally really feel nice there and love the individuals who current this sequence!
EP: Marie Chilemme not too long ago joined the quartet as its new violist. What strengths does she deliver to the group?
RM: Marie is amazingly reactive and versatile, has a very good temper and powerful spirit, and maintains a crucial and constructive ear. Her contact with the instrument permits the quartet to discover microscopic particulars and her devoted and prepared character reinforces the collective each day.
EP: That is your twentieth 12 months as a quartet. How has the group developed and what are a few of your targets transferring ahead?
RM: These twenty years glided by in a minute! We really feel every little thing nonetheless must be finished. There’s all the time a thriller about what we will obtain, and it’s solely on the sphere you can know. Our tasks embrace a Haydn/Janacek/Schumann program, and collaborations with the Belcea Quartet, Martin Fröst, and Antoine Tamestit. We’ll most likely carry out extra modern music and possibly even produce a self-written/organized (and even sung?) album. Every thing is but to be confirmed…we’re nonetheless very busy with Ludwig.