The audience has had the same feelings and thoughts about the concerts given by the Habanera Quartet for fifteen years. They are obviously struck by its members’ delight in being together, their complicity and solidarity.
During recitals, with their guests or in mixed projects mingling video or drama, the Habanera Quartet carries on exploring new repertoires, provoking meetings with artists from different aesthetic backgrounds and endlessly repeating artistic adventures.
After more than four hundred concerts, the strong values of chamber music, on which the quartet has built itself, give it the energy and zest to carry on the adventure.



Michel Portal is a multifaceted musician : a classical clarinetist, he is also keen on contemporary music and has already worked with Kagel, Stockhausen, Berio, Boulez and Globokar, for instance ; he has also taken part in numerous concerts with Diego Masson’s Ensemble Musique Vivante. A sought-after improviser, he often performs with the American dancer Carolyn Carlson. Keen on jazz, he plays with Europe’s best musicians, such as Texier, Humair, Solal, Jenny-Clark... and creates the Michel Portal Unit. He has always refused to let music freeze and gives free vent to his imagination and his fantasy when he improvises, abandoning his clarinet for either a bandonion or a saxophone.

Michel Portal, the Habanera Quartet and Louis Sclavis met in 2007 during a memorable three-part-concert given for the Habanera Academy in Poitiers.
In an overexcited atmosphere, and during the set reserved for Michel Portal and Habanera, the quintet explores the possible alliances between the bandonion and the saxophone family through Piazzolla’s repertoire. During the rehearsals, the master became the one who passed on his memories of a concert with Astor to performers turning back into attentive disciples. The lesson was obviously quickly learned ! In addition to the dark Five Sensations (Cinq Sensations) for string quartet, adapted for saxophone quartets, the programme was completed with arrangements by Alexandros Markéas (Milonga Picaresca, Knife Fight).

Vidéo Michel Portal - Habanera


Louis Sclavis has imposed himself as one of the most creative musicians on the European jazz stage for about fifteen years. Unpredictable as he is, his repertoire on the clarinet ranges from Rameau to Duke Ellington ; he wanders on various musical territories which are constantly renewed , coming across numerous musicians such as H. Texier, A. Romano, M. Portal, B. Lubat… and the Habanera saxophone Quartet. They first met in 2000. The four saxophonists and the unclassifiable Louis Sclavis were immediately attracted to one another’s music worlds. The urge to carry out a common project was born.
Several composers and improvisers joined this project. They imagined a collection of works enabling Louis Sclavis to confront his world with theirs, creating transitions which, like Ariane’s threads, illustrate the intertwining of improvised and written music, popular and learned music.
L’engrenage, the CD born out of this meeting, was published at Alpha’s in the Songs of the Earth collection. (« Chants de la Terre »)

Vidéo Louis Sclavis - Habanera


A virtuoso clarinetist among the famous Klezmatics, David Krakauer is today one of the most talented figureheads of the typical New-York sphere of influence of the new Klezmer music, which is bent on reviving an ancestral tradition, naturally open to the most varied musical influences.
Magnified by the smooth, twirling and high-flying phrasing of David Krakauer’s clarinet, the Klezmer tradition has never been so up-to-date and close to the other contemporary musics in its preoccupations. In this creative intelligence, there is a true will to break down all the barriers in genres and styles, a true will to take part in a history, a tradition, a community so as to open out to the world better.
Beyond Klezmer music, David Krakauer is also known for his mastery of the most diverse musical genres: chamber music, avant-garde, rock which lead him to collaborate with numerous ensembles : Kronos Quartet, Arditti String Quartet, Radio Orchestra in Berlin , John Cage, John Zorn … and the Habanera Quartet which he meets in their Poitiers region for the first time during the ninth Habanera Academy.
They naturally tend to choose Klezmer music for their programmes with original compositions by David Krakauer for instance. The Habanera Quartet and David Krakauer also revisit classics (Overture on Jewish Themes ( l’ouverture sur des thèmes juifs ) by Serge Prokoviev, Mladi by Leos Janacek)



Not so long ago was the time when Japanese musicians who ventured into Western countries were watched and heard like disquieting monsters of perfectionism or prodigious copycats without real genius, implacable machines of sorts more than artists. Things have changed a lot and long is the list of Rising Sun conductors and performers who have conquered the least ethnocentrist audiences in the world.
Yasuaki Shimizu is precisely one of these intercultural miracles. He has always been immersed in a wide-ranging musical world as he has lived in Europe for a few years himself and is one of the experimenters and creators without borders. Neither a boulimic, nor an eccentric, he has an insatiable longing for beauty and invention. He came across Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Cunningham, Michael Nyman or Maceo Parker among others. Inspired by Ethiopian music, Shimizu wrote arrangements and composed pieces for concerts given in the Théâtre de la ville in 2006. He was indeed struck by the similarities between Ethiopian music and traditional Japanese music and the correspondences that he found there as he got to know them: their seemingly endless loop-like patterns and their relationship to space in particular.
In order to confirm and share this approach, he intends to play the Cello Suites that he himself arranged and harmonized, alternating with his Ethiopian interpretations (Asa, Ban, Iru, Tèw semagn hagéré) rather than play one repertoire after the other.

Vidéo Yasuaki Shimizu - Habanera



The saxophone quartet does not have a sizeable repertoire historically. The Habanera quartet has noticed several times during their 400 concerts over a fifteen-year-period that the audience is ready to discover a group, works, seldom visited musical territories. By opting for eclecticism, associating works in a way that can seem unorthodox at first sight, associating a contemporary creation, a transcription and, why not, a short humorous scene at the end of the concert, the recitals of the quartet put forward some simple values without courting popularity: sharing pleasure and enthusiasm.

As a consequence, it is sometimes pleasant to allow oneself to discover Bach or Debussy, Nino Rota, Iannis Xenakis or Leonard Bernstein in the same programme. The latter, an eclectic educationalist, would certainly not have disapproved.

Every stage is different, be it National Stages, Summer Festivals, concerts in churches or in music schools. Therefore, depending on where they play and what they are asked, the quartet adapts the programme of its recitals. That’s the reason why the Habanera quartet carries on arranging, commissioning, creating and exploring new repertoires.

Habanera, etc... Allow the quartet musicians the pleasure of making you discover their repertoire …
Italian Concerto, J.S Bach - Bergamasque Suite, C. Debussy - 6 Bagatelles, G. Ligeti
Quartet , M. Ravel- Czardas, V. Monti - Passarela di 8 1/2, N. Rota.

Terra incognita. What would the saxophone be if it had not travelled to the Americas?
American Quartet, A. Dvorak - New York counterpoints, Steve Reich ,
West side story, L. Bernstein - Tangos, A. Piazzolla - Porgy and Bess, G. Gershwin

About 1900. Or how music anticipated the upheavals of its time.
Langsamer satz, A. Webern - Suite bergamasque, C. Debussy -
Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm , B. Bartok , Cadiz, Cordoba, Aragon,
I. Albeniz – The Threepenny Opera, K. Weil



Le saxophone, est généralement associé à la musique du XXème, et notamment du jazz.
Pourtant, inventé par Adolphe Sax en 1843, Il est définitivement un instrument romantique : Ses premiers défenseurs, Berlioz , Rossini, Bizet, Saint Saëns l’utilisent et décèlent immédiatement le potentiel expressif de l’instrument. Son inventeur, Adolphe Sax, homme du XIXème, inventeur passionné, entrepreneur tenace, qui croit en son génie et à l’invention qui lui tient le plus à cœur.

Bien qu’encore perfectible, le saxophone trouve une place singulière dans l’instrumentarium de la fin du siècle. Il est à la fois utilisé dans les musiques militaires, en soliste dans l’orchestre pour sa couleur unique dans l’orchestre (Werther de Massenet, L’Arlésienne de Bizet, Rapsodie de Debussy).

Rendant ainsi hommage à sa vocation première, le quatuor Habanera explore un répertoire de transcriptions de la fin du XIXème siècle.

Certainement sensibles au patrimoine et à l’histoire des musiques de ballet, les compositeurs français utilisent les danses anciennes et modernes pour habiter leur univers romantique. Ces danses quittent progressivement l’univers de la musique de scène et du ballet pour aller vers de compositions originales et personnelles
Lindaraja Claude Debussy
Variations sur une ronde populaire Gabriel Pierne
Quelques danses op 26 Ernest Chausson
Tombeau de Couperin Maurice Ravel
Sarabande-tarentelle Styrienne Claude Debussy
Pièces pittoresques Emmanuel Chabrier

Ce programme reçoit le soutien du Ministère de la culture et de la communication/DRAC de Haute Normandie, du Palazetto Bru Zane-Centre de musique romantique française et de la région Haute-Normandie



Quelques Danses





A tale taken from « Oriental Tales » by Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-1987) - Published byGallimard
A music show for a saxophone quartet, a narrator
offered by the Habanera quartet and the Théâtre de l’Incrédule

Directed by Benjamin Lazar (comedian)
the Habanera quartet:
music created by Alain Berlaud
stage design, lighting and costumes by Bernard Michel
drama by Louise Moaty,



The plot





Produced by the Théâtre de l’Incrédule and the Habanera Quartet
Co-produced by the Rouen Opera (Haute-Normandy) and the “Autumn in Normandy” festival, with the the backing of the Haute-Normandy Region
A show created in August 2007 within the context of the “Académie Bach” in Arques la Bataille with the backing of the DRAC in Haute-Normandy.
Technical collaboration of the M.I.A (Musique Inventive d’Annecy- P. Moënne Loccoz)
A show supported by the ODIA Normandie and created in the Neufchâtel en Bray Theatre and the National Stage in Petit-Quevilly « La Foudre ».



Created on November 5, 2002 in the submarine base of Bordeaux

Created on 5 November 2002 in the submarine base of Bordeaux, this audio-visual project, which was shot by Jack Febus productions, was broadcasted on France 3 on November 25, 2003 for the first time and then on Mezzo and Arte.

During an evening, the preludes taken from the two books of The Well-tempered Keyboard introduce counterpoints which are really different from those that the Leipzig master had invented: it goes from Steve Reich’s repetitive counterpoint (New-York Counterpoint) to electronic extensions (Vertical Composition, Alexandros Markeas) ; a youth work by Ligeti, who was then a young counterpoint teacher in Hungary (Eight bagatelles) not to mention Piazzolla, who introduced the art of the fugue in his tangos (Fugata). The saxophone ensemble is ideal to hear the identity of each voice and each new entry in fugues.

Following this project, the Habanera Quartet launches several projects to arrange Steve Reich’s music with Guillaume Bourgogne. In addition to New York Counterpoint, the Habanera Quartet’s repertoire now comprises Vermont Counterpoint. They are also preparing a CD for Alpha, alternating preludes of The Well-tempered Keyboard and Steve Reich’s repetitive music.

Prélude BWV 847 - New York Counterpoints, S. Reich
Prélude BWV 863 - 6 Bagatelles, G Ligeti
Prélude BWV 857 - Vertical Composition, A. Markeas
Prélude BWV 867 - Mysterious Morning, F. Tanada
Prélude BWV 872 – Vermont Counterpoints , S. Reich
Prélude BWV 858 - Fugata, A. Piazzolla