It is simply a great honour to have a residency in Bonn, after we committed ourselves to a Beethoven cycle [Beethoven Around the World, 2020]. The team of Beethovenfest and the audience have been incredibly kind and open and quite enthusiastic!
1. Your residency here is halfway over, two concerts remain. What are your impressions so far about Bonn and the festival?
2. How did you agree on the programmes you brought to Beethovenfest for your residency?
Under the condition of playing a dense programme to a high standard in a relatively short time period, we sought to balance out our pure quartet repertoire with pieces that would allow us to play with others: our dear colleague, cellist Nicolas Altstaedt, or two students of ours from Munich university of music. The repertoire ranges from Haydn to Janáček and Shostakovich over Schumann, Brahms, Schubert, Strauss and Tchaikovski. Unfortunately we couldn't play with clarinetist Martin Fröst, we wish him a quick recovery.
3. How many hours do you spend rehearsing while touring? And how do you cope with the stress?
Most of the time we travel quite long hours, because we fly as little as possible. It happens that we spend eight hours on the train, even on the day of the concert. Then, the balance between tiredness and quality is very hard to find. But we always try to have three good hours of rehearsal on stage.
4. On stage you sound incredibly perfect, but always amazingly spontaneous and intense. How do you manage to maintain the necessary control and routine, while at the same time fully embrace the risk taking you need for this?
Spontaneity is not very difficult to achive: it would be much more exhausting to fix everything and to try to deliver an exakt copy of an interpretation again and again. We draw inspiration from the relationship between ourselves - our playing together is always flexible and this interactive rapport is the most beautiful thing in the world, despite interpersonal problems that sometimes arise!
5. What constitutes a great string quartet in your opinion?
An ensemble that can make a moment special, even for a few minutes, to create meaning with sound. Meaningful music is rare to find. Beautiful sound and technique is quite abundant among the string quartet scene, but what makes a quartet memorable is more an ability for theatric performance.
Thank you for the conversation!
The residency of Quatuor Ébène at Beethovenfest
, Kursaal Bad Honnef
Quatuor Ébène & Friends
Yumin Lee, Yuri Yoon
Mozart, Strauss, Tschaikowski
, University of Bonn, Aula
Quatuor Ébène & Altstaedt
, Bundeskunsthalle, Forum
Haydn, Janáček, Schostakowitsch
, Stadttheater Rheinbach