Stories » Emerson String Quartet lives up to its reputation@UW World Series / Seattle Times

Top 10 for Aug

Emerson String Quartet lives up to its reputation@UW World Series / Seattle Times

Bookmark and Share

For nearly 40 years, the Emerson String Quartet has commanded a certain reverence from music lovers. Its polished and authoritative performances, its comprehensive and mighty discography, its fearless embrace of the new and unusual as well as the classics - all have placed this string quartet high in the pantheon of chamber music.

For all those reasons, the appearance of the Emersons on the International Chamber Music Series at Meany was an eagerly awaited event Tuesday evening, and the quartet did not disappoint. Even the arrival of a new cellist (Paul Watkins) in 2013 has not disrupted the ensemble's famous unity; if anything, Watkins' energetic approach has revitalized the Emerson's lineup, which includes founding violinists Philip Setzer and Eugene Drucker (alternating as first violin) and violist Lawrence Dutton. Since 2002, those three players have stood, rather than sat, for performances; the cellist necessarily performs seated (on a small podium that places him near the same height as the other three).

The Meany program demonstrated the Emersons' remarkable versatility - stretching from a 17th-century Purcell "Chacony in G Minor" to a Lowell Liebermann quartet (No. 5) composed just last year. In between those extremes were two works by acknowledged quartet-writing masters, Shostakovich (his No. 7) and Beethoven (No. 15, better known as the Opus 132).

READ THE FULL Seattle Times REVIEW