The Emerson String Quartet stands apart in the history of string quartets with an unparalleled list of achievements over three decades: more than thirty acclaimed recordings, nine Grammys® (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year”, and collaborations with many of the greatest artists of our time.
With the arrival of cellist Paul Watkins in May of 2013, the Emerson Quartet has embarked on a remarkable new journey – one filled with freshness, warmth and impressive accolades. Mr. Watkins, a distinguished soloist, award-winning conductor, and dedicated chamber musician, has joined the ensemble for its 37th season, and his dedication and enthusiasm have already infused the Emerson Quartet with a rich tone and vibrant sense of humor. “One of the characteristics of the Emerson Quartet is that its players (the violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer and the violist Lawrence Dutton in addition, now, to Mr. Watkins) all have the ability and the instruments to produce a sweet and glossy sound — but do so sparingly. Instead, they establish a chromatic scale of timbres that range from dry and tart over clean and zesty all the way to lustrous and singing. Listening to them pass tiny rhythmic motifs around the group, I was struck by how evenly calibrated these timbres were.” The New York Times
The Quartet’s season began in Montreal followed by performances in Tianjin and Taiwan. Summer festival performances included Caramoor, Aspen, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Mostly Mozart and a residency at the Norfolk Music Festival. Late summer dates at European festivals brought them to Berlin, Augsburg, Ascona, Città di Castello and Humlebaek, Denmark, for two appearances at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. In a season of over 80 quartet performances, mingled with the Quartet members’ individual commitments, Emerson highlights feature numerous concerts on both coasts and throughout North America. Multiple tours of Europe include dates in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Poland and the UK. The Emerson continues its series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC for its 34th season and gives a three-concert series in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, which is focused on the last five quartets of Shostakovich juxtaposed with Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” and the last quartets of Mendelssohn and Britten. The unifying theme in these programs is the preoccupation with death. In May and June 2014, the Quartet will tour South America, Asia and Australia.
As an exclusive artist for SONY Classical, the Emerson recently released Journeys, its second CD on that label, featuring Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence and Schoenberg’s Verklaerte Nacht. Future recordings are planned with Mr. Watkins.Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Quartet took its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.