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ESQ set to play CMH / Houston Chronicle

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For a man with nine Grammy Awards lined up on his bookshelf, violinist Philip Setzer of the Emerson String Quartet talks a modest game. "We love all the incredible music that we've spent so much of our lives trying to figure out," Setzer says, looking back on 40 years of quartet playing. "And we've been extremely lucky." Indeed, for the past four decades, the Emersons have been a fixture on the classical music scene. The group that Time magazine dubbed "America's greatest quartet" has played concerts in the thousands and has recorded almost four dozen discs. Even more remarkably, there has been only one personnel change in the quartet's history - the original cellist, David Finkel, was replaced in 2013 by Paul Watkins.

In Houston, the quartet's appearances are almost annual events. The group will be in town once again Thursday evening, at Rice University's Stude Hall, presented by Chamber Music Houston. This time, it'll play string quartets by Ludwig van Beethoven, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Dmitri Shostakovich. Setzer recently spoke from his home in South Orange, N.J., about playing, touring and keeping it fresh.  READ THE FULL Houston Chronicle Q&A