Classical Music

Where Ya Been, Ébène?

A conversation with Gabriel Le Magadure, second violinist of Quatuor Ébène.


To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>

“We always keep the fun in music and the pleasure to perform and to play together,” says Gabriel Le Magadure, second violinist of the internationally-recognized Quatuor Ébène. That’s been apparent over the course of their nearly twenty-year career, which has included everything from winning first prize of the ARD International Music Competition in 2004, to performing one hundred concerts a year, to covering Miles Davis and the Beatles.

Quatuor Ébène
Quatuor Ébène

On how Quatuor Ébène formed:

“We gave immediately the priority to chamber music because we wanted to do it, it was just a need for us. We didn’t know if it would work or not, but we were just happy to be together and to share music…”

On why playing in quartet is an essential experience:

“Quartet is sort of a school of life…in the way you not only learn music but you learn about yourself and about yourself in front of other people.”

On the “quartet life:”

“Of course there is some time we are a bit tired of it, but we are never tired about the music, and this is the main point…We are so lucky to do it that I would never complain about this, and it’s always a pleasure, I would say.”

On their schedule:

“Rehearsing is the key to keeping the level, I think. So we just do it every day when we are together, we give the priority to the work now…I think this is also a key for future string quartets who want to do it. It’s not only being together and having fun but also working is a big priority.”

On playing “second fiddle:”

“It’s sometimes reduced in the eyes of people…but I think we are the heart of the quartet. It’s a role of following very well, but also proposing a lot. It’s for me the perfect balance between being like a soloist, or lyrical voice, and being a bass. It’s like the viola and the second violin are the skeleton of the ensemble.”

On performing music from different genres, and the genesis of their albums Fiction and Brazil:

“We need to do this because it’s our generation…we come also from those musics. It can be tango, it can be electro, it can be jazz, it can be movie music, this is something that we have grown with when were young, so it’s part of our body and of our skin.”

On tonight’s program:

“This is the Mozart personally I love the most…the minor Mozart. It’s a work in D minor, which comes very much from the opera, and the lyrical way. It’s very intimate, this is quite sad, but always very nostalgic and very full of love and sentimental atmospheres. And compared to this, we will play the Beethoven right after, which is like champagne music!”


Chamber Music Houston presents Quatuor Ébène tonight, March 28th at 7:30pm in Stude Concert Hall at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University.

Music featured in this segment is excerpted from Debussy’s String Quartet in G minor, Op.10, Assez vif et bien rythmé and Très modéré, recorded by Quatuor Ébène (Virgin Classics) and “7-29–04 The Day Of (From Ocean’s 12), recorded by Quatuor Ébène (Virgin Classics).