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France’s Quatour Ébène returns to SFP for another classical gig

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I do not know if Quatour Ébène (Ébène Quartet, consisting of violinists Pierre Colombet and Gabriel Le Magadure, violist Mathieu Herzog, and cellist Raphaël Merlin) is the only group to have performed for San Francisco Performances (SFP) in both the Jazz Series and the Chamber Series. However, I am fairly confident that they are the most recent to do so. I have enjoyed writing about both them and their recordings on both fronts, as they offer up a perfect example of my conviction that jazz is “chamber music by other means.”

Next month they will return to the SFP Chamber Series. They will celebrate their diversity with a program of string quartets from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. They will begin with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 428 in E-flat major, the third of the six quartets that he dedicated to Joseph Haydn. This will be followed by Béla Bartók’s third quartet, regarded by many as the most compact of the six quartets he composed. The second half of the program will consist entirely of Felix Mendelssohn’s Opus 13 quartet in A minor, which was the opening selection on their Felix & Fanny Virgin Classics album released a little over a year ago. Mendelssohn composed this quartet in 1827 at the age of eighteen; and it is particularly distinguished by the elaborate fugal writing in the second (Adagio non lento) movement, which returns to take another shot in the final (Presto) movement. Will there be any jazz? While no jazz appears on the full program, the ensemble has a reputation for improvising their encore performances; so listeners will just have to wait to see what happens after they conclude their Mendelssohn performance.

The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 3, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner with Franklin Street). Tickets are priced at $38 and $65. These may be purchased through the event page for the recital on the SFP Web site. SFP may be reached at 415-398-6449 for further information.

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