Emerson String Quartet
After more than 45 years, one of the most acclaimed and venerable string quartets in the world graces us with a stop on its farewell tour. The Emerson String Quartet’s impact on the world of classical music performance cannot be overstated. With more than 30 acclaimed recordings, nine GRAMMYs® (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, and Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year” award, the Quartet has collaborated with some of today’s most esteemed composers to premiere new works, keeping the string quartet form alive and relevant. This program of masterworks will leave you breathless and not ready to say goodbye.
“With musicians like this, there must be some hope for humanity.”
– The Times of London
Prelude lecture by Michael Gerdes · 6:30 PM
Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer – violins
Lawrence Dutton – viola
Paul Watkins – cello
The Emerson String Quartet has maintained its status as one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles for more than four decades. The Quartet collaborates with some of today’s most esteemed composers to premiere new works, keeping the string quartet form alive and relevant. The group has partnered in performance with such stellar soloists as Renée Fleming, Barbara Hannigan, Evgeny Kissin, Emanuel Ax, and Yefim Bronfman, to name a few.
In the 2021–22 season, the Quartet gave the New York premiere of André Previn’s Penelope at Carnegie Hall, alongside soprano Renée Fleming, actress Uma Thurman, and pianist Simone Dinnerstein, before reprising the program in a concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In addition to touring major American venues extensively, the Quartet returned to Chamber Music Society of Louisville, where they completed the second half of a Beethoven cycle they began in spring 2020. Finally, the Quartet embarked on a six-city tour of Europe, with stops in Athens, Madrid, Pisa, Florence, Milan, and London’s Southbank Centre where they presented a complete Shostakovich cycle, one of the staples in their repertoire.
The Quartet’s extensive discography includes the complete string quartets of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bartok, Webern, and Shostakovich, as well as multi-CD sets of the major works of Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and Dvorak. In 2018, Deutsche Grammophon issued a box of the Emerson Complete Recordings on the label. In October 2020, the group released a recording of Schumann’s three string quartets for the Pentatone label. In the preceding year, the Quartet joined forces with GRAMMY-winning pianist Evgeny Kissin to release their debut collaborative album for Deutsche Grammophon, recorded live at a sold-out Carnegie Hall concert in 2018.
Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson String Quartet was one of the first quartets to have its violinists alternate in the first chair position. The Quartet, which takes its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, balances busy performing careers with a commitment to teaching, and serves as Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. In 2013, cellist Paul Watkins—a distinguished soloist, award-wining conductor, and devoted chamber musician—joined the original members of the Quartet to form today’s group.
In the spring of 2016, the State University of New York awarded full-time Stony Brook faculty members Philip Setzer and Lawrence Dutton the status of Distinguished Professor, and conferred the title of Honorary Distinguished Professor on part-time faculty members Eugene Drucker and Paul Watkins. The Quartet’s members also hold honorary doctorates from Middlebury College, the College of Wooster, Bard College, and the University of Hartford. In January of 2015, the Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America’s highest honor, in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field.
String Quartet No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 12
String Quartet No. 3 in B-flat Major, Op. 67
String Quartet No. 14 in A-flat Major, Op. 105
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