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Emerson String Quartet plays Shostakovich at Tanglewood / The New York Times review

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Far from shirking challenges, the Emerson String Quartet has, in its 37 seasons, tended to seek them out. It is not enough, for example, merely to scatter the six Bartok quartets (which the group recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, winning a Grammy Award in 1990) among mixed programs; the Emerson has repeatedly performed all six works in a single long evening. 

And evidently such adventuring will continue now that the group has undergone its first personnel change in more than three decades, with Paul Watkins having replaced David Finckel as cellist last year. The Emerson has long played the 15 Shostakovich string quartets (which it also recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, winning another Grammy in 2000); now it is beginning to perform a significant handful of those works at a shot. 

On Thursday evening, for the first time, the Emerson played the last five of Shostakovich's 15 string quartets in a single concert, in Seiji Ozawa Hall here at Tanglewood. This program, with the works presented in chronological order and with two intermissions, is more than a test of the players' endurance and stamina, although it is surely that. It also contains several strands of internal logic. READ THE FULL New York Times REVIEW.